Main Menu
Human Trafficking
Street Children

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                

Republic of the Philippines

The police and military routinely torture detainees, and a lack of effective witness protection has been a key obstacle to investigations against members of the security forces.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Philippines

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Philippines.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Philippines

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 3 August 2021]


The law prohibits torture, and evidence obtained through its use is inadmissible in court. According to the Commission on Human Rights, however, members of the security forces and police were accused of routinely abusing and sometimes torturing suspects and detainees. Common forms of abuse during arrest and interrogation reportedly included electric shock, cigarette burns, and suffocation.

As of June the Commission on Human Rights had investigated 27 cases of alleged torture involving 34 victims; it suspected police involvement in 22 of the cases.

Impunity was a significant problem in the security forces. Human rights groups continued to express concern about abuses committed by the national police and other security forces and noted little progress in reforms aimed at improving investigations and prosecutions of suspected human rights violations.


Prison conditions were often harsh and life threatening and included gross overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions, physical abuse, and a chronic lack of resources including medical care and food.

NGOs reported abuse by prison guards and other inmates was common, but they stated that prisoners, fearing retaliation, generally declined to lodge formal complaints.


The BJMP helped expedite court cases to promote speedy disposition of inmates’ cases. Through this program authorities released 41,555 inmates from BJMP jails from January to July. Nonetheless, pretrial detention in excess of the possible maximum sentence was common, often extending over many years.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Authorities stated in July 2019 that 5,526 people had been killed in Duterte’s antidrug campaign as of June 30, 2019. However, human rights groups, drawing in part from a 2017 police report of “deaths under investigation,” in 2019 put the number of related deaths at as many as 27,000. The victims include civilians and children who were deliberately targeted. Convictions for extrajudicial killings and other such crimes are rare, and Duterte has appeared to encourage the actions.

The police and military routinely torture detainees, and a lack of effective witness protection has been a key obstacle to investigations against members of the security forces.

Investigate humiliating abuses by local officials enforcing curfew

Amnesty International, 8 April 2020

[accessed 12 April 2020]


In March 2020, a news report stated barangay officials from Sta Cruz, Laguna are facing charges after detaining curfew violators in a dog cage. This was followed by a police officer caught on video beating up several residents in Manila for violating quarantine protocols; the PNP responded with an investigation of the incident. The most recent report was of a video shared by a barangay captain asking three curfew violators who are members of the LGBTQI+ community to do lewd acts as punishment.

Torture victims file complaint vs soldiers at CHR

Karapatan, 2 March 2018

[accessed 24 March 2018]

Janry and Jerry were abducted by elements of the police and military in Tagum City, Davao del Norte on November 28, 2017 after being falsely accused as thieves. After the Philippine National Police-Tagum cleared the victims, they were turned over to the 71st Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army, who brought them to the army camp where they were continuously beaten for being alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA). They were kept inside an unmoving ambulance inside the camp for 8 days, and were fed only a total of 4 days. On December 6, 2017, they were brought to a mountainous area in Compostela Valley and were thrown in a pit where the soldiers tried to burn them alive.

The victims were able to escape, after pretending to be dead, but Janry already suffered third-degree burns. Jerry also has several wounds in his body. The two were able to get back to their family and made contact with Karapatan’s regional chapter in Southern Mindanao on December 12, 2017.

AFP to probe allegations of torture by gov't forces in Marawi

Eimor P. Santos, CNN Philippines, 18 November 2017

[accessed 18 November 2017]

"They gave us biscuits and we thought that we were safe. But then the master sergeant arrived. Then they told us that we were ISIS. They beat us. I was beaten with an Armalite [rifle]. They tied our hands and feet with electrical wire. I was crying and they would not listen," Justin said, as quoted in the report.

Another civilian the report nicknamed as "Joshua," said he was shot by a soldier despite holding up a white flag, a symbol he was not from the enemy's side.

United Nations experts express concern over torture of children in secret detention facilities and lowering age of criminal responsibility

Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (World Organization Against Torture) OMCT, Geneva, 18 May 2016

[accessed 9 August 2016]

The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) urged the Philippines to immediately close all “secret places” of detention where people, including children, are routinely subject to torture. It also called for the age of criminal responsibility to be kept at 15 years of age, urging the Government to drop a bill aimed at lowering it.

The UNCAT, a group of human rights experts in charge of assessing countries’ application of the Convention Against Torture, last Friday announced its concluding observations with regard to the Philippines’ over the last seven years. It expressed concern about children deprived of liberty in unofficial detention centres. The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) had beforehand submitted a report to the UNCAT providing evidence of the existence of a “secret facility” run by the Malabon Bayan Police, in Metro Manila, where children – some of whom had not even committed crimes, or only minor non-violent offenses – had been electrocuted, heavily beaten, and arbitrarily detained for lengthy periods.

‘Frustrated’ torture victim asks Duterte, court to hasten trial of Palparan

Janess Ann J. Ellao,, Manila, 31 May 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

Torture survivor Raymond Manalo is calling on both President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and the Bulacan court to speed up the prosecution of his abductors and torturers, including retired Maj. General Jovito Palparan Jr

Manalo and his brother Reynaldo, were hogtied and forcibly taken by soldiers from their home on Feb. 14, 2006. The soldiers were initially looking for their brother Rolando, a rebel returnee since the Ramos administration. In their earlier testimonies, both recounted how they were illegally detained in various military camps in Central Luzon and were tortured and inhumanely treated. They escaped from a military camp in Pangasinan in 2007.

‘He forced a mop into my mouth’: Sick police torture games go unpunished in Philippines, 12 June 2015

[accessed 21 June 2015]

“HE TOOK a mop and forced the dirty and damp rag at the bottom into my mouth.”

“The police officer asked: ‘Can you take my kicks?’ I said, ‘No sir’,” she said. “He then kicked me so hard that I fell against the wall. He punched me continuously and hit me with a wooden baton. He punched me in the stomach and slammed my head against the wall.”

The Filipina single mother, a former police informant, had been at a Manila internet cafe when officers pointed a gun at her and accused her of drug dealing — charges she continues to deny.

They punched and handcuffed her and took her to headquarters, where she was searched and no illegal substances were found. Then they tried to force her into a confession.

She was left in such pain she could hardly move, struggling to breathe and vomiting for days. When her sisters came to visit, she was warned not to say anything, and had to meet them in a dark room under supervision.

The following day she was forced to sign a blank piece of paper and be photographed with money and a sachet of drugs. Police continued to play sick games with the 32-year-old, trying to shoot a bottle balanced on her head and forcing fingers into her eyes. Alfreda remains in detention, awaiting trial

Torture is endemic in the Philippines, with reports to the country’s human rights commission growing 900 per cent between 2001 and 2013.

'Abadilla 5' custodians charged with torture

janvic Mateo, The Philippine Star, Manila, 25 April 2015

[accessed 14 August 2015]

[accessed 12 January 2019]

The 12 policemen, along with SPO2 Edilberto Nicanor, were also charged with nine counts of violation of Section 2(a), (b) and (f) of Republic Act 7438 (Rights of persons arrested, detained and under custodial investigation).

The cases stemmed from the complaints of the Commission on Human Rights, on behalf of the five suspects charged for the killing of Abadilla in Quezon City on June 13, 1996.

The five – Rameses de Jesus, Cesar Fortuna, Lorenzo delos Santos, Leonido Lumanog and Joel de Jesus – claimed that they were tortured in order to confess to the assassination of Abadilla, the former chief of the defunct police Metropolitan Command Intelligence and Security Group.

The new case before the Quezon City court was filed after Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer Dyna Camba of the Office of the Ombudsman affirmed an earlier Department of Justice resolution that recommended the filing of charges against the police officers.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


POLICE USE OF TORTURE - Rampant police corruption seriously undermines the country’s criminal justice system and exacerbates the problem of impunity. In January, an investigation by the Commission on Human Rights implicated members of the Laguna provincial police in the systematic torture of at least 22 inmates that began in February 2013. The police dealt out torture in a secret location using a spinning wheel like in the “Wheel of Fortune” game show in the United States. At time of writing, 10 police officers implicated in the torture had been dismissed from duty and faced prosecution, while several others were being investigated.

A November report by the Department of Justice detailed allegations of torture by members of the police in Zamboanga City against several suspects arrested in connection with the September 2013 attack on the city by Islamist militants. Human Rights Watch documented several instances of mistreatment of the detainees, several of them children, as well as the militants’ use of civilians as human shields. The government has not investigated the alleged abuses.

Amnesty Report Condemns Police Torture in Philippines

Floyd Whaley, New York Times, Manila, 3 December  2014

[accessed 16 December 2014]

The Philippine police continue to torture and degrade suspects despite a national effort to stem the practice, according to a new report from the human rights group Amnesty International.

The report, to be released Thursday, details accounts of the police using electric shocks, beatings, burning cigarettes, waterboarding and humiliation on suspects, with some “being stripped naked and their genitalia tied to a string which was pulled by police officers.”

“Perpetrators of torture continue to act with impunity, as if they are above the law,” says the report, titled “Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines.”

Five years later, no convictions under landmark anti-torture law

Amnesty International, 10 November 2014

[accessed 29 November 2014]

In November 2012, President Benigno Aquino passed Administrative Order 35, which sets up special teams of prosecutors across the country to investigate cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. Yet two years later, these teams are still only in the training phase and it is unclear if they are present across the whole country.

CASES -- The following are three examples of the use of torture and the culture of impunity around it in the Philippines:

In August 2007, activist Raymond Manalo escaped military custody after being tortured and forcibly disappeared for 18 months. He and families of other torture victims accused a military general of involvement in their torture and disappearance in a high profile case. It was only in December 2011 when the regional trial court in Bulacan province ordered an arrest warrant for retired General Jovito Palparan, and it took another two and a half years before he was arrested in August 2014. He is currently being detained under special conditions in a military facility.

In August 2010, torture once more hit the headlines in the Philippines when a mobile phone video of a man being tortured was broadcast on television. The man, identified as Darius Evangelista, a porter and repeat offender, has not been seen alive ever since. Investigators found that Darius was arrested and disappeared in March that year, and that after he was tortured, fellow detainees witnessed an order being given by the police to “finish him off”. The Evangelista family filed a torture case in court in September 2011 – the first filed under the Anti-Torture Act. More than three years later, of the seven police officers charged, three have “surrendered”, the primary suspect has been arrested (in 2013), and three remain at large. The trial is on-going.

In October 2013, Alfreda Disbarro, a single mother from Parañaque City, was arrested, tortured and accused by police of being a drug dealer. In fact, she was an occasional former police informant who wanted out from working with the local police. Once police had taken her to their headquarters, they repeatedly beat her, poked fingers into her eyes, and forced a mop into her mouth. Over the following days Alfreda was in terrible pain. During this period she was photographed with Php300 (US$7) and a sachet of drugs, and told to sign a blank sheet of paper.

Global Campaign to Stop Torture - Focus on priority countries

Amnesty International AI, 2014

[accessed 19 September 2014]

Although the Philippines Government has ratified the UN Convention on Torture it has not been able to enforce its own laws and standards.  Its constitution prohibits the use of torture.  Its revised Penal Code criminalizes all acts of torture with corresponding penalties.  Despite this, torture is rampant in the Philippines, as is impunity for those who carry it out.

Most torture victims come from disadvantaged backgrounds and include women, juvenile and repeat offenders.  In addition those who have been tortured fear reprisals against their families if they attempt to use the law to bring the perpetrators of torture to justice.

Torture in the Philippines: In Summary: Stop Torture Country Briefing

Amnesty International AI, 13 May 2014

[accessed 19 May 2014]

Amnesty International has serious concerns about the widespread use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the Philippines. State security forces including law enforcement officers continue to torture suspects and prisoners. Justice is out of reach for the vast majority of people who are tortured. And perpetrators are almost never held to account.

Though confessions extracted through torture are theoretically inadmissible in court, a lack of forensics capacity means that torture is used in many cases as part of criminal investigations, which largely depend on testimonial evidence. Prosecutions frequently proceed slowly, as courts are beset by a backlog of years’ worth of cases. And these failings effectively shield the perpetrators of torture from prosecution and conviction: delay and uncertainty rarely lead to justice.

CASE STUDY: LAGUNA -- TORTURE AS ENTERTAINMENT --  In January 2014, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines discovered a secret detention centre in a residential neighbourhood in Laguna province. Police officers there apparently tortured detainees as a form of entertainment. Officers would spin a wheel to decide what method of torture to use, often fired up by “drinking sprees”. The centre was not included in the Philippines National Police’s (PNP) list of detention facilities – in violation of Section 7 of the 2009 Philippines Anti-Torture Act.

More than 40 detainees – some with bruises and torture marks still evident on their bodies when CHR staff discovered the facility – have since accused police officers of torture, ill-treatment and extortion. At least ten officers are suspected of involvement.

KMU: Activists may have been victims of police ‘torture roulette’ in Laguna

Kristine Angeli Sabillo,, Manila, Philippines, 26 January 2014

[accessed 28 Jan 2014]

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) on Sunday asked the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to further look into the so-called torture chamber in Biñan, Laguna run by the provincial intelligence branch (PIB) of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The CHR on Friday exposed the facility, after detainees, arrested on drug charges, complained of torture and maltreatment. It said the detention cell found in the PIB compound was not included in the official list of detention facilities.   Television reports showed a “torture” roulette specifying the kind of torture, as well as its corresponding amount of time, meted out on a detainee.   One portion of the roulette said “30 seconds Paniki,” meaning the person will be hung upside down for 30 seconds.

Phillippines: Human Rights Report for 2013

Asian Human Rights Commission AHRC, Press Release AHRC-PRL-021-2013, Hong Kong, 8 December 2013

[accessed 9 Dec 2013]

On the occasion of the Human Rights Day, 2013, the Philippine Desk of the Asian Human Rights Commission has produced a 19 page report detailing the prevailing situation in the country.

This year's report is entitled, 'License' to torture, kill and to silence the oppressed' and gives numerous examples of the human rights abuses by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the armed forces. Such abuses include illegal arrest and detention, disappearance of arrestees, torture and, in many cases, in order to justify their illegal actions, the fabrication of charges.

Rights groups condemn torture of three Lumads, including two children

Anne Marxze D. Umil,, Manila, 31 July 2013

[accessed 31 July 2013]

The arrest and torture of the minors were strongly condemned by child rights groups CRC and Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns. “The CRC condemns these multiple violations of AFP soldiers and its affiliated paramilitary. These children suffered enough from the moment that they have been illegally arrested and detained. But the soldiers did not stop, they even tied up the children while they were beaten and kicked in their face, neck and nape. BJ was burned by a cigarette in his lips and bullets were pressed between his fingers while a barrel of a .357 pistol was put in Arturo’s mouth while he was being beaten. The two also suffered suffocation after their heads were wrapped with a plastic bag and they were branded as members of the NPA,” Jacqueline Ruiz, CRC executive director said in a statement.

Torture, human rights violations still rampant in Philippines

Mindanao Examiner, Manila, 26 June 2013

[accessed 27 June 2013]

[accessed 1 August 2017]

A Filipino human rights group has condemned the widespread use of torture and human rights violation perpetrated by state forces in the Philippines.

She said foremost among these cases is the torture of security guard Rolly Panesa, who was mistaken to be a top-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines.   Panesa was badly beaten during interrogation inside a military camp, according to Enriquez, adding photos of the man's bruised and swollen face, including medical certificates, proved what he went through. She said Panesa is still in jail for nearly eight months now.

On May 29, 2012, Cesar Graganta and his two friends were walking in Villa Hermosa village in Macalelon town in Quezon province when he and his two companions passed by a group of soldiers who are members of the 85th Infantry Battalion. The soldiers fired a shot prompting Cesars companions to run.   The soldiers took Cesar and tied him to a tree for one and-a-half hours while they interrogated him. Soldiers punched and kicked him, put a bolo against his neck, hit him with a piece of bamboo, put sharp sticks into his ears, tied a rope around his neck and pulled at it, pinched his nose with pliers and poured ants on his body, Enriquez said.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Three years after its promulgation, implementation of the Anti-Torture Act remained weak, with no perpetrator yet convicted of this crime. Torture victims, particularly criminal suspects, were reluctant to file complaints due to fear of reprisals and lengthy prosecution.

The court case of Darius Evangelista, in which the act of torture and the identity of the perpetrators were caught on video in 2010, continued. Seven policemen were accused, but only two faced charges. The suspects were initially in police custody, but according to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, they went missing in April 2012 and remained at large.


Enforced disappearances of activists, suspected insurgents and suspected criminals continued to be reported.

In January, after flying to Manila from Zamboanga City, farmers Najir Ahung, Rasbi Kasaran and Yusoph Mohammad were apprehended at the airport, allegedly by state forces, and were not seen since. The authorities refused to provide lawyers representing the missing men with closed-circuit video tapes or a list of security forces on duty at the airport at the time of their disappearance.

In October, Congress passed the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Bill, after more than two decades of lobbying from civil society. The bill, which criminalizes enforced disappearance and prescribes penalties up to life imprisonment, awaited the President’s signature to bring it into force.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 4   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 11 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The Muslim separatist conflict has caused severe hardship for many of the 15 million inhabitants of Mindanao and nearby islands and has resulted in more than 120,000 deaths since it erupted in 1972. Both government and rebel forces have committed summary killings and other human rights abuses. MILF guerrillas have attacked many Christian villages, and the smaller ASG has kidnapped, tortured, and beheaded some civilians. Islamist militants are suspected in a string of bombings on Mindanao in recent years. The escalation of violence in the south in late 2008 displaced more than 600,000 people by year’s end. Meanwhile, the communist NPA continues to engage in some executions, torture, and kidnappings in the countryside, especially in central and southern Luzon. In January 2008, the group carried out a significant attack on a mining company.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution prohibits torture, and evidence obtained through its use is inadmissible in court; however, members of the security forces and police routinely abused and sometimes tortured suspects and detainees. The CHR provides the police with mandatory human rights training, and senior PNP officials appeared receptive to respecting the human rights of detainees; however, rank-and-file awareness of the rights of detainees remained inadequate.

The TFDP stated that torture remained an ingrained part of the arrest and detention process. Common forms of abuse during arrest and interrogation reportedly included striking detainees and threatening them with guns. The TFDP reported that arresting officers often carried out such beatings in the early stages of detention.

The TFDP reported 15 cases of torture involving 32 victims during the year.

A man arrested in June by the AFP 65th Infantry Battalion as a suspected NPA leader alleged the use of torture while he was in captivity. A CHR investigation confirmed that the victim had signs of beatings on his back and black marks on his hand from electric shock. The commanding officer of the battalion denied the allegations. No case was filed before the courts.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Philippines",, [accessed <date>]