Soldiers arrest, jail, torture, starve, frame 2 Moros

Jun. 25, 2007

PHILIPPINES: Illegal arrest and detention; torture; food deprivation;
filing of fabricated charges; arbitrary use of power by military;
absence of rule of law


Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information
about the brutal torture of two men, both belong to Muslim
minorities, following their arrest by soldiers over allegations they
are involved in incidents of bombing in Central Mindanao. Victim Thos
Ulimpain and his cousin Nasser Mendo were arrested by soldiers in
Midsayap, North Cotabato on 3 May 2007. Following their arrest the
soldiers detained them at their headquarters in nearby Cotabato City.
It was there that they were brutally tortured and deprived of food
while they were interrogated.


According to Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) in
Mindanao, the arrest of victims Thos Ulimpain and his cousin Nasser
Mendo, were done by combined elements of the military attached to the
6th Infantry Division (ID), Philippine Army (PA) on 3 May 2007.
Ulimpain and Mendo had allegedly been under surveillance by the Armed
Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Military Intelligence Group
(MIG). However, their arrest was a result of what could be have been
a flawed intelligence report the soldiers had received from their

Ulimpain and Mendo were inside their house in Barangay (village)
Malingaw, Midsayap, when several soldiers arrived and surrounded
their house. Soon after, they ordered the two men to come out. The
soldiers, without offering any explanation to the victims,
immediately searched their house. Neither did they produce any
warrants. The victims were handcuffed, blindfolded and forced to the
ground. The soldiers claimed to have recovered a 105mm howitzer round
inside the house, which the victims had no knowledge of. They claimed
their innocence and insisted the ammunition recovered had been

The soldiers nevertheless took the two men, at around 8:30a.m., to
their headquarters in Awang, Cotabato City. Upon their arrival at the
camp, they were separately taken to a secluded room, still handcuffed
and blindfolded. While they were being questioned the two men were
brutally tortured and subjected to several interrogation techniques.
They repeatedly hit on different parts of the body every time they
refused to answer a question.

According to Mendo he was seating on a bench when about ten persons
surrounding him, interrogated him. He was forced to admit they owned
the 105 howitzer round that was supposedly recovered from their
house. They also forced him to disclose names of supposedly Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group members known to him, and
those who are supposedly engaged in plotting bomb attacks within
Central Mindanao, in particular in Cotabato provinces.

Every time Mendo resisted and refused to provide information they
repeatedly hit him with a hard object on different parts of his body,
in particular on his back and chest. They also subjected him to
suffocation with a plastic bag. Due to the severe beating and torture
inflicted on him, Mendo was forced to admit owning the 105mm howitzer
round, supposedly recovered from their house. He was likewise forced
to provide fabricated names of MILF members.

On the other hand, Mendo’s cousin, Ulimpain said some of his
personal belongings were confiscated, including his mobile phone and
cash. He was dragged along and made to sit on the cement floor, still
handcuffed and blindfolded. While blindfolded, he believes that the
person questioning him was reading the incoming SMS messages of his
mobile phone. Also, the said interrogator had asked of the
sender’s background. They were asked whether they were involved
with the MILF and another illegal armed group, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).
Every time Ulimpain denied any knowledge to any information his
interrogator was asking, they repeatedly kicked and hit him on his
chest and back. He frequently lost conscious during the ordeal.

From May 3 to 5, they are not given any food while in custody at the
military headquarters. They were later turned over to Police Precinct
No. 1, supposedly in Cotabato City where they were detained. On May 7
they were taken to the North Cotabato Provincial Detention and
Rehabilitation Center in Amas, Kidapawan City where they are
presently detained.

It is reported that two victims had been facing charges for
frustrated murder before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 22 in
Midsayap, North Cotabato. The background of case is yet to be known.


The AHRC had in the past reported a number of cases wherein soldiers
are illegally making arrests, although it should have been purely a
police function, of persons suspected to be involved in bombings.
Some of the victims however had been exonerated by the court and were
released without charges. Alleged planting of evidence and torturing
suspects to force them to admit the crime have become common
practices by the soldiers and police officers.

On April 2002, three men were arrested in General Santos City
supposedly in connection with the bombings in the city. They were
beaten following their arrest while in police custody. One of them
was sexually humiliated. They were never charged for the bombing
though. The police, however, charged them for possession of firearms
and explosives over alleged fabricated evidence. Five years on, the
case is dragging in court while the victims are out on bail. None of
the policemen involved in torturing them were prosecuted. (Please
read for details: UA-74-2005

This is also the case of five men arrested in Cotabato City on April
2003. They were illegally arrested and subsequently charged for the
deadly March and April 2003 bombings in Davao City. While in military
and police’ custody, they were brutally tortured, including
suffocation and electrocution. The victims claimed they have never
set foot in Davao City in their defense; thus it is improbable for
them to carry out bomb attacks. (Please read for details: UA-69-2005

On 9 January 2004, torture victim Omar Ramalan and his wife Bairon
were illegally arrested over allegations that Omar perpetrated a
deadly bombing in Parang, Maguindanao five days earlier. Omar was
taken to the military camp where he was brutally tortured. Later the
court ruled to dismiss the charges against him for lack of evidence.
His wife was never charged. Those who tortured him though were never
prosecuted. (Please read for details: FA-04-2004
; UP-09-2004

In August 4 last year, development worker Uztadz Kusain Abedin was
illegally arrested and detained for several hours by soldiers over
allegations of plotting a bomb attack. The arrest was a result of an
intelligence report, which was later found to be flawed and
inconclusive. Abedin was release after hours of detention without
charges. Once again, the soldiers involved in illegally arresting and
detaining him were never held accountable. (Please read for details:
UA-260-2006 ).

Please write letters to the agencies below requesting for a credible
investigation into the victims’ allegations against the
soldiers involved. The charges against them must be withdrawn if
there are no sufficient evidence against them in court. The victims
must also be afforded with proper treatment and rehabilitation for
the injuries and trauma respectively they suffered as a result of

To support this appeal, please click here:

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