‘Military torture video’ probe done by March 25

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is expected to wrap up before this week ends its investigation on a video clip purportedly showing a military torture session in 2008, but the findings cannot be released immediately to the public, according to an AFP official.

Col. Domingo Tutaan, head of the AFP’s Human Rights Office, said on Friday that the team of military investigators from the Army's 9th Infantry Division who were sent to Bicol to probe the incident returned to Manila on Thursday and is expected to finalize its report by Saturday, March 25.

The team investigated the site where military trainees were seen screaming in pain as their trainers lashed at them with ropes and sticks had supposedly taken place as shown in the eight-minute video.

The video was uploaded on the popular video-sharing site YouTube last March 17 and has since been circulating on the social networking site Facebook.

“They are finalizing the report for the inquiry. They are expanding the inquiry to determine identities of those involved and determine command responsibility on those identified," said Tutaan.

But the military official explained that before the report can be made public, the investigating team will first have to submit it to Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu, Army commanding general, then to AFP chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Oban Jr.

Tutaan said Oban had specific instructions to investigate the matter “as swiftly as possible without sacrificing the content of the report."

The AFP Human Rights Office chief said the military would also be furnishing the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a copy of the same report.

Apart from the 9th ID, the Army's Provost Marshal has also been tasked to conduct a separate investigation on the matter. The Provost Marshal’s function is to help the Army leadership maintain order and discipline among its personnel.

Tutaan said having two simultaneous probes on the alleged torture video was “a way to corroborate investigation and have checks and balances on the investigation to be undertaken by the team."

The trainers in the torture video were said to be from the 9th ID and the training they had conducted supposedly part of the military's “escape and evade" program that teaches soldiers how to survive in dire conditions when captured by the enemy.

The AFP has assured the public that the officials involved in the supposed torture session have already been relieved from duty. Their identities and other details of actions taken against them however were withheld. – MRT/JV, GMA News

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