By TYRONE A. VELEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Two Lumad minors in Loreto town, Agusan del Sur were on their way last Monday to register for the Barangay and SK elections, when they were accosted by government troops.
The human rights group, Karapatan, also claimed that the two were detained, tortured and charged at the local court for murder. It said that the 26th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Bagani Force “violated the rights” of minors Arturo and BJ (not their real names) aged 16 and 17, by subjecting them to “arbitrary detention, interrogation and torture.”
The Army troops arrested them along with two other minors on suspicion that they had something to do with an alleged ambush staged recently by the New People’s Army. The two other youths were turned over to their parents later, while Arturo and BJ remained in the military’s custody.
The victims, according to Karapatan, said soldiers and paramilitary troops removed their shirts and punched them at the face, stomach and nape. The perpetrators also burned BJ’s lips with a cigarette and pressed his fingers with bullets. Arturo had a .357 pistol aimed at his head while he was being beaten. They lost consciousness after their heads were wrapped with a plastic.
The military turned them over to the police the next day who charged them for the murder.
When Arturo and BJ’s parents arrived at the police station with Karapatan, the police refused to release the teens to their families. The police brought the two victims to the Prosecutors Office in Patin-ay, Agusan del Sur for inquest proceedings.
The parents complained that their sons were not given medical treatment.
Karapatan is assisting the family through legal counsel and appealed for the release of the minors from the custody of the Municipal Social Welfare Department.(Tyrone A. Velez, davaotoday.com)agusan, children's rights, Human Rights, torture, UNCRC, violence against women and children