The impunity of torture despite anti-torture legislation

Historically, torture has been brandished as a weapon by the ruling classes. The authorities both possess and exercise their capability to carry out inhuman, cruel and degrading punishments.


TORTURE has various forms and purposes in the Philippines. Historically, torture has been embedded in the criminal justice system of the country. The use of torture could be as a form of punishment for breaking the norms and/or laws, or as a method of extracting information from a person suspected of a crime, or as a form of political repression to inflict harm or sow fear and terror against political dissidents and insurgents.

The Philippine experience has been largely influenced by foreign colonial powers that ruled the country for about 500 years. The colonial rulers introduced several ways of using torture to produce severe and inhuman effects on the victims and their families. These forms of torture by the foreign colonial rulers, especially those employed by the Americans during their direct colonisation of the country, have remained in use and have even been improved upon by the state security forces.

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Text adapted from the speech given by Rep. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate of the Bayan Muna Party list House of Representatives, at the 16th Philippine Congress and 3rd Asian Alliance Against Torture and Ill-Treatment (AAATI) Conference of Asian Parliamentarians, 10-14 October, 2014.