CHR hails conviction of three cops who abused traffic violator

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
CHR hails conviction of three cops who abused traffic violator
Logo of Commission on Human Rights
Commission on Human Rights

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday welcomed the court conviction of three police officers who tortured a person detained for violating traffic rules.

The recent decision of a Koronodal City court to convict three police officers for violating the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 is a “significant milestone” and the fourth conviction scored by the CHR overall under the law, the human rights body said.

“This demonstrates the CHR's consistent efforts to pursue justice and hold perpetrators accountable for violating human rights under the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act,” the CHR said.

The court said that the three cops — PMSG Edmer Gerodias, PCPL Edwin Habagat, and PAT. Allen Candido — were found guilty of conspiring with one another to commit the offense of torture as defined by the Anti-Torture Act.

The incident took place Feb. 3, 2019 when cops had arrested and placed into their custody Ernesto Omani for committing a traffic violation. They had “inflicted physical injury on the victim by kicking his face and body and striking his arm and leg with an armalite butt,” the CHR said.

With the conviction of the three erring cops, the human rights body issued a reminder for all police personnel to adhere to its own operational procedures, which bar the use of violence or unnecessary force when making an arrest.

The incident that led to the conviction is “not only a blatant violation of the law, but also a direct transgression against the principles of humanity,” the CHR said.

“It is critical for our law enforcement officers to understand the importance of using proportional and judicious force in their duties. Only through these actions can we ensure that justice, human rights, and the rule of law are upheld and respected,” the CHR added.

In December 2023, Victor Zaharia, who heads the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), called on the government to fast-track the adoption of bills that will create a national monitoring body called National Preventive Mechanism. 

Based on their monitoring, human rights group Karapatan has documented at least 488 victims of torture since July 2010 despite the passage of the Anti-Torture Act the year before.

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