- Title: PHILIPPINES / FILE: Military to investigate "torture" video
- Date: 23rd March 2011
- Summary: WIDE VIEW OF SOLDIERS MARCHING MORE OF SOLDIERS MARCHING
- Embargoed: 7th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Philippines
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA3C6TJ14OV8J9QXJBA6WR2GHNC
- Story Text: The Philippine Armed Forces said on Tuesday it would review training procedures a video was posted on the Internet showing half-naked cadets being beaten with sticks during drills.
The 15-minute video clip uploaded on the popular video sharing site YouTube and social networking site Facebook showed the cadets apparently being whipped, beaten and punched to prepare them for possible capture by guerilla forces.
What appear to be screams of pain are heard in the clip, as "captors" apparently beat "prisoners" over the head while some soldiers allegedly rub alcohol on the cadet's wounds to deepen the pain.
Philippine Army Commanding Officer Gen. Arturo Ortiz admitted that the military conducted such training as part of their escape and evasion survival exercises for special forces in preparation to fight rebel groups, but he said the regiment did not include body contact that would result in actual torture.
He said soldiers are prohibited from applying any physical force on candidate soldiers, especially for newly drafted cadets.
"The exercises for practical escape and evasion are only for those learning to become Special Forces and Scout Rangers. That is why we prohibit such training for candidate soldiers; candidates are only taught the basics," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said the Philippine Army is investigating the video along with the Commission on Human Rights.
Isnayp, a militant media group with links to Maoist rebels, reportedly uploaded the video on the web after one soldier who said he was disgusted by the alleged military brutality sent them the clip. The video quickly spread on the internet.
Ortiz dismissed the group's story and said the video, which was taken in their 2008 military training, was stolen from one of their soldiers who was killed during an encounter with guerrilla forces in the Northern Philippines.
Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) is condemning such training as inhumane and could advocate brutality to soldiers.
"This kind of training would actually create the wrong mindset among the troops, and may in fact encourage human rights violation and torture, because the troops would think that such actions are normal. Such actions are normal under the current armed conflict in the Philippines," said Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes.
Reyes said guerilla forces do not use such torture tactics in interrogating their captives and demanded the military to stop using such training since it could result in more human rights violations.
Armed forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff, Gen. Eduardo Oban said the military would keep strict surveillance on the training of cadets to ensure that no such violations would happen in the future.
"Well, that happened in the past. What we need to do is to give it attention and change what needs to be changed," Oban said.
The video emerged almost a month after another video clip allegedly showing the Marines brutally beating civilians in the Southern Philippines.
In 2009, lawmakers banned the torture of suspects after a series of videos showing military and police brutality circulated in the internet.
The country's 130, 000-strong military has been struggling to improve its image after a U.N report in 2007 blamed soldiers for human rights abuses including dozens of documented political killings and disappearances of left-wing activists and suspected Maoist rebels, including journalists.
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