A 15-year-old peasant in Quezon province was allegedly kidnapped, interrogated, and tortured by supposed soldiers of the Philippine Army.
Belle, the victim who cannot be named since she’s a minor, said that she was taken in a white van on July 27, 2020 after going to the store by elements of the 59th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (IBPA). She was illegally detained from July 27 to August 13, 2020.
In a press conference Friday (Jan 21), the family of the victim stated that they filed charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention with rape, violence against women and children, and child abuse against Leoven Julita, a Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) member, who raped the minor multiple times.
The family also filed charges of torture against former SOLCOM Chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, 2nd Infantry Division Maj. Gen. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., 59th IBPA commander Lt. Col. Edward Canlas, and other members of the military.
The IBPA is under the watch of then Southern Luzon Command Chief (SOLCOM) and NTF-ELCAC Spokesperson Gen. Parlade.
While in the military camp, Belle said, seven armed soldiers forced her and her parents to surrender as insurgents. They are a family of farmers.
Furthermore, the family sued Arnil Abrinillo, one of the men Belle identified, for kidnapping and serious illegal detention. They included DSWD Lopez’s Desiree Salamat and Leonito and Vilma Julita, parents of Leoven, for serious illegal detention.
Belle shared that she was illegally detained in a police officer’s house before she was released to her family.
“Nagmakaawa ako sa DSWD pero pinilit po nila akong pumirma ng salaysay na kusang-loob akong pumunta at wag ako ibigay sa aking ina. Labag po ito sa aking kalooban (DSWD urged me to sign a statement saying I voluntarily surrendered and not to take me back to my mother. This is against my will),” Belle said. She added that her sister also signed a statement so they could go home.
The victim alleged that she was detained in a small room in the camp and experienced interrogation, red-tagging, and threats by soldiers and members of CAFGU.
The victim spoke of the continued harassment by the military. She said that she sees them when she goes to her school to get her modules. Her family also reportedly received death threats through Facebook messenger from anonymous accounts.
Women’s rights group GABRIELA condemned the crimes committed by the military. “Dapat managot ang lahat ng sangkot sa krimeng ito. Ang kaso ni Belle ay nagpapatunay lang na napakarami pang paglabag sa karapatang-pantao ang dulot ng militarisasyon sa Quezon na higit pang pinaigting ng NTF-ELCAC (The suspects in the crime should be held accountable. Belle’s case is proof of various human rights violations brought about by militarization in Quezon, under NTF-ELCAC),” a spokesperson said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted preliminary investigations on Thursday, Jan 20.
This was not the first time the 59th IBPA harassed farmers of Quezon. On Nov 19 last year, Tanggol Magsasaka Timog Katagalugan (TM-TK) said in a press release that two farmers from Sampaloc, Quezon, George Coronacion and Arnold Buri, were killed by the military who repeatedly claimed that the two coconut farmers were insurgents.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.
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