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Yano forms team to probe complaints of detained ‘plotters’

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:43:00 06/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Lieutenant General Alexander Yano has formed an investigating body to look into claims by 28 officers facing court martial for an alleged February 2006 coup plot that their human rights had been abused, a military spokesman said.

The military’s Inspector General, Lieutenant General Ferdinand Bocobo, will lead the investigation, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

On Wednesday, Bocobo met with the wives of the detainees, Maria Flor Querubin, wife of accused Marine Colonel Ariel Querubin. It was the wives who made public the alleged abuses their husbands were suffering in military custody.

Yano ordered the board to come up with a report “as soon as possible,” Torres told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We consider this as a good step towards hearing both sides…From there, we will know what needs to be adjustment [or] if there is a need to make some adjustments regarding the custody of the detainees,” Torres said.

In a complaint letter sent to Bocobo’s office, the wives raised six alleged human rights violations, including barring the detainees from singing.

“Those detained in ISAFP [Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines] are even prohibited to sing. It seems that it is illegal for detainees to be happy,” the wives said.

Though most of the accused officers are detained at Camp Capinpin in Tanay town, Rizal province, a small group is being held at the ISAFP compound in Camp Aguinaldo.

The wives described their husbands’ detention as arbitrary, saying the charges were recommended dismissed by pre-trial investigators. Some of the officers, they said, were even kept in solitary confinement.

They said the “entire proceedings have been characterized by arbitrariness calculated to demoralize the detainees,” citing the sudden transfer of the detainees from Camp Capinpin to ISAFP early this year.

“The right to liberty is our foremost human rights issue,” they said.

The wives claimed their husbands’ detention was “intended as a punishment,” not to bring them to trial. Detaining them in Tanay, in particular, was allegedly “calculated to deprive” the officers of regular visits from their families and lawyers.

Medical attention was “constantly denied or deprived,” religious services were “seldom” and allowed only upon request, and fitness routines were “curtailed,” the wives further claimed.

Leave passes for family emergencies were also not granted, according to the wives, who cited the example of the highest-ranked accused, Major General Renato Miranda, whose leave pass to visit his wife in the hospital was cut short.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-06-11T07:26:34+00:00UTC06bUTCWed, 11 Jun 2008 07:26:34 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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