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Chiz lauds Senate ratification of Anti-torture Bill

By Office of Sen. Chiz Escudero
September 4, 2009

PASAY CITY  –  Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero on Wednesday lauded the Senate ratification of the reconciled version on the anti-torture bill, saying it is a landmark piece of legislation that will alleviate the deplorable state of human rights in the country.

“This is victory against human rights violators. Torture is to be abhorred. Torturers should be put away for life," said the 39-year old lawmaker who steered the passage of the measure in the Senate as chair of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

“I urge our House colleagues to do the same. This is one measure which all of us can be proud of,” Escudero said.

Last week, the Senate-House Bicameral Conference Committee reconciled the two versions of the anti-torture bill, which seeks to penalize perpetrators of the act, particularly persons in authority or those acting on their behalf.

It penalizes all forms of torture, be it physical, mental, psychological and pharmacological, which is done through the administration of drugs.

Aside from criminalizing torture, Escudero said the bill prohibits the use of “secret detention centers” by state authorities.

If passed into law, State authorities such as the police and the military are required to submit to the Commission on Human Rights a list of all their detention centers on a monthly basis.

“No more secret or clandestine hideouts or holding areas where torture is most of the time performed,” he said.

The senator added that perpetrators of torture including their superiors face a maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment. Other penalties range from a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 years depending on the gravity of the offense.

The bill also includes provisions for the protection of complainants and witnesses and persons involved in the prosecution, and the establishment of a rehabilitation program for victims.

Under the bill, no justification can be offered to justify torture and other inhuman punishments, which will be declared as criminal acts.