On Cagayan “surrenders,” torture and secret detention

Marco Valbuena | Chief Information Officer | Communist Party of the Philippines

June 03, 2023

Like many of so-called “surrenderees” who are presented publicly by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Michael Cedrick Casano and Patricia Nicole Cierva, youth activists in Cagayan, were subjected by the military to relentless psychological torture to break their spirit and will to fight for the people.

The civil and political rights of Casano and Cierva were grossly violated by the AFP when they were kept incommunicado for more than 15 days after being taken into custody last May 18. That they eventually “surrendered” and gave up their principles after being broken by their tormentors after 15 days does not change the fact that the 501st Infantry Brigade subjected them to torture while they were under secret detention in violation of all laws of civilized societies.

They were not charged before the courts where they could have a chance to defend themselves in open trial, and instead were tried and adjudged by their military captors in secret dungeons.

In contrast, peasant activist and organizer Arthur Lucenario, who was abducted by agents of the 47th IB last April 14 in San Miguel, Bohol, was summarily killed on May 12, after close to one month of secret detention and torture. In all probability, Lucenario’s spirit was not broken and remained defiant in the face of his torturers. The AFP falsely declared that Lucenario was killed in an “armed encounter” with the NPA. Based on local reports, his body bore signs of severe torture.

Also in contrast, Negros NDFP leader Rogelio Posadas, who was in his 60s, was abducted on the night of April 19 while travelling on two motorcycles with one other companion along the road between the towns of Isabela and La Castellana in Negros Occidental. The AFP did not accord them the rights to lawyers or face charges before courts. Posadas was summarily killed by the 23rd IB, who later issued false news that he was killed in an armed encounter in a hinterland barangay of Binalbagan town. His companion, Lyngrace Marturillas, and two drivers, Renel delos Santos and Renal Mialen, remain missing to this day.

The above cases are just some of the most recent cases in the increasingly dirty war of the AFP under the Marcos regime, where civilians, activists and revolutionaries alike are being arrested unlawfully, or abducted and detained secretly, where they are made to choose: “surrender or die.”

The AFP uses all means to put pressure on their victims, including kidnapping babies (as in the case Baby Rhea and Baby Marx), harassing their families, and all other tactics to deny them lawyers and prevent them from exercising their rights. Under de facto martial law, these crimes are being carried out by the AFP with utter impunity.

These cases must be fully exposed and condemned in order to end all these cruelties.