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Filipino cops accused of using 'wheel of torture'

By Jim Gomez

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:35 p.m. HST, Jan 28, 2014

MANILA » Philippine police officers played a "wheel of torture" game to have fun and punish criminal suspects during interrogations, including bouts of punching named after boxing star Manny Pacquiao, human rights officials and activists said today.

Under the game, detainees — mostly suspected drug traffickers — were punched if the "torture wheel" stopped at "20 seconds Manny Pacman," Pacquiao's nickname, or hung upside down if it stopped at a punishment called "30-second bat," Amnesty International said. The London-based rights group called the practice despicable.

A picture of the multi-colored wheel provided by the Commission on Human Rights showed several other tortures, including "3 minutes zombies" and "30-second duck walk/ferris wheel" but it was not immediately clear how those punishments were carried out.

"It's horrible," commission Chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales said. "They do it for fun, it's like a game for entertainment. We're trying to correct this mindset based on a human rights approach to policing but obviously it may take a lot of time."

Allegations of torture have particular resonance in the Philippines, which emerged from a brutal era of dictatorship nearly three decades ago. Thousands of victims during dictator Ferdinand Marcos's rule won a class action suit against his estate for torture and other rights violations in 1992 in Hawaii. A peaceful, army-backed "people power" revolt ousted Marcos in 1986.

President Benigno Aquino III, son of revered pro-democracy leaders who fought Marcos, has pledged to prosecute violators of human rights. Rights groups, however, say violations have continued with impunity.

The violations allegedly took place at a police intelligence office in Binan town in Laguna province south of Manila which has not been accredited as a detention center and was holding crime suspects illegally, Rosales said.

She said her commission investigated after receiving a tip early this month on alleged abuses of more than 40 detainees. The maltreatment allegedly occurred last year and this month.

Rosales said she has urged top police officials to pursue criminal complaints against about 10 officers who were implicated in the abuses.

National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said several officers have been taken into custody and an investigation is under way.

A report by the rights commission cited detainees as saying they were beaten up, electrocuted or hit by steel bars, baseball bats, a chair or helmet. One detainee said a police officer pointed an assault rifle at him, and another accused the police of threatening his relatives.

"For police officers to use torture 'for fun' is despicable," Amnesty International's Hazel Galang-Folli said in a statement. "These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law."

The group urged Aquino's administration "to act immediately to put an end to routine torture."

Lawmakers enacted an anti-torture act in 2009 and the Philippines has ratified an international convention against torture.

"Despite these, the road ahead remains littered with the vestiges of this despicable practice," Rosales said. The police abuse "offers a stark contrast between policy and practice. In many places, it seems torture is still considered SOP (standard operating procedure) by some law enforcement personnel," she said.

In 2010, all 11 officers in a Manila city police station were relieved of their duties after a television station aired a video purportedly showing police hitting a naked robbery suspect. The video showed the suspect screaming on the floor as a man pulled a string bound around his genitals.

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krusha wrote:
They need to implement that punishment here for crooks who steal copper wire.
on January 28,2014 | 05:55AM
Froi101 wrote:
Hehehehe, good one..
on January 28,2014 | 07:29AM
Tarakian wrote:
Lol, thats a good one!
on January 28,2014 | 01:13PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Who plays Vanna White -- Imelda Marcos?
on January 28,2014 | 06:10AM
GoldenRule wrote:
No good news ever comes out of the Philippines. Too much corruption and evilness. Even the Catholic Church is corrupt and shibai.
on January 28,2014 | 07:28AM
Mei mei wrote:
how nice of you to generalize a whole country !
on January 28,2014 | 12:22PM
Froi101 wrote:
Onli in da Pilipins... and that's their motto...
on January 28,2014 | 07:29AM
primo1 wrote:
Is one of the punishments "Eat balut"?
on January 28,2014 | 07:34AM
busterb wrote:
Dat one is a reward, you silly man.
on January 28,2014 | 11:58AM
mineeyes wrote:
Just gotta pull harder on that string!
on January 28,2014 | 01:00PM
HanabataDays wrote:
"We're trying to correct this mindset based on a human rights approach to policing but obviously it may take a lot of time." Probably a lot less time if they were given a taste of their own medicine.
on January 28,2014 | 07:50AM
Jonas wrote:
Wheel of torture - what a great idea! Perhaps there'd be less crime if punishment was more severe.
on January 28,2014 | 08:30AM
cojef wrote:
Be careful what we mouth relating to torture, should one live in some Muslim countries. It is not unusual to lop off your hand for stealing and stoning for sexual crimes. The North Korean leader just executed his uncle very swiftly after he was arrested and there is no indication that there was a trial according to our standards of jurisprudence. There still exist in the Philippines many tribal customs, such as torture still being used in the remote islands under Muslim sect controls.
on January 28,2014 | 09:11AM
wes wrote:
3 minute zombie - put your arms up and hold it for 3 minutes. 30 second duck walk - spin a mouse wheel and make someone walk as fast it goes for 30 seconds.
on January 28,2014 | 08:36AM
Dawg wrote:
Haha this is a really funny article. I bet they have the lowest crime statics in the country. Give'um with the right to correct rules.
on January 28,2014 | 08:38AM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Why i am not surprised?......after all its the philippines.....
on January 28,2014 | 09:22AM
Mei mei wrote:
everyone's biased and bigoted opinions of the Philippines - is so absurd!!!
on January 28,2014 | 12:40PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Unfortunately, Mei mei, that is the real commentary of our society today when human beings approve of torture and racism and even justify it through their religion as if it is God's will. What makes it even more tragic is that they gain some kind of entertainment from it...even as a joke on a serious matter.
on January 28,2014 | 01:45PM
sailfish1 wrote:
They should put it on TV - it'll be a big hit there and here in the U.S. too.
on January 28,2014 | 03:07PM
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