An irony and emotional torment many times over
“The President must guarantee that no one is above the law.” This is what Amnesty International is asking President Aquino in the face of the 75 reported cases of police torture last year and 28 in the first half of 2014.
Torture done by policemen, whose salaries come from the taxpayers’ hard-earned money, is institutionalized torture. It is of a worse kind because the police are mandated to protect the people. Done in a Christian country that celebrates the birth of Jesus who brings peace to the world, torture is a shameful irony.
There is another institutionalized torture perpetrated on innocent people: For one to be detained knowing that he did not violate the law is already emotional torture. How much worse could it be for one accused of the nonbailable crime of kidnapping and tagged as a New People’s Army rebel so that people desiring to help him would avoid him like a leper for fear of being marked as NPA collaborators?
Imagine the anguish that a single mother would feel being separated from her children instead of being able to provide them with the physical and emotional care that only a mother can give. Emotional torture is more painful during Christmastime when families would wish to enjoy the blessings of family reunions. Having to spend Christmas in a detention center is additional institutionalized torture.
I would like to ask the government—the President himself—to set free for Christmas those being detained in violation of due process: no warrant of arrest, no
possession of firearms, no continuing crime. It’s so easy to detain the poor when they have no families around, or because they have no money to pay a lawyer, or since they are not well-versed in their rights, like the indigenous peoples. Ironically, “inviting,” “interviewing” and then detaining a poor person take less than 12 hours, yet attaining justice takes months, even years.
The military and the police involved in cases like these should bear in mind that they are morally responsible for the emotional torture they inflict on the innocent. However they see their participation as “trabaho lang,” which is the usual Filipino excuse, they cannot escape the justice that the Messiah has promised unless they repent and facilitate the release of the innocent.
In a democratic country, institutions are supposed to be most protective to the most vulnerable people. Here in “democratic” Philippines, institutions can be most violent to the most vulnerable. Pope Francis tells us: “…until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile ground for growth and eventually explode.” (Evengelii Gaudium #59).
May Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto, now detained in the Taytay police headquarters, be home for Christmas!
—FR. PETE MONTALLANA,
indigenous peoples’ coordinator,
Diocese of Infanta
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