November 2012

 

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Torture Victims in the Philippines Speak Out:
“I Don’t Mind Going Hungry. All I Need Is My Husband.”


Asian Human Rights Commission


Introduction

This is the tenth interview in a series of conversations with victims of torture in the Philippines or their family members conducted by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Hong Kong. In this interview, Hadji Noria Salipada, the wife of torture victim Alex Salipada, talks about how difficult it was for her and her family to look for her husband after the police deliberately hid him from them. While being tortured in captivity, it was only Alex’s thoughts of his three children that kept him alive. For details about Alex’s case, which took place in Mindanao in the southern Philippines, please see AHRC-UAC-178-2012.

A Wife’s Ordeal

I am Hadji Noria Salipada, residing at barangay (village) Fatima in General Santos City. My husband’s name is Alex Salipada. I want to ask help for my husband. He is incarcerated, and I want him to be free. He is innocent. I don’t know why he is arrested. On June 20, 2005, at 5:00 p.m., he was arrested in our house. He was picked up and taken inside a white pickup without a plate number. When I arrived from collecting money from our neighbors who borrowed money from us, I saw my children crying. My eldest is Said Salipada, then Sofana Salipada and Samsia Salipada.

When I arrived in our house, my children were crying; they were still young at that time. They were crying outside our house.

My children told me: “Mother, father was arrested by people.”

They were in civilian clothes. He was placed in a pickup truck without a plate number. He was carried in a truck without a back cover.

I asked them, “Is there a truck without a cover?”

Then they told me, “Yes, mother.”

Then I asked my neighbors if they noticed the incident. One of my neighbors noticed a white van without a plate number.

I looked for my husband, and I kept on asking. I went to the police station near us. The police told me they didn’t notice the white pickup. For nine consecutive days, I kept on coming back. A policeman told me to go to Camp Lira. I asked him where is it. He told me it is in the barracks, and I have to look for the Turoktukon city director.

I kept on asking Mr. Wilfredo Toroctocon, who told me he doesn’t know. I went to different detention places to look for my husband. I don’t know what my husband’s fault is, but I kept looking for him—maybe he is still alive. I told Mr. Toroctocon they should show me my husband. He told me to go home. It is about 5:00 p.m. I don’t like to go home. I want to see my husband.

He told me, “Go home. You did not eat the whole day.”

I told him, “Sir, I don’t mind going hungry. All I need is my husband because it is difficult for me. My three children are sick because they keep on looking for their father.”

And then he told me again to go home.

I told him, “I will not go home. Just show me my husband. I need my husband.”

Then he called someone. I heard he called someone and asked if it is finished.

I felt nervous. What if they killed my husband?

Then I asked him again, “Sir, what is that, sir?

He said they are busy and there is someone from Manila that they have to investigate.

That day maybe he was forced to show me my husband and maybe called the handler. That is the time I saw my husband.

It is around 10:00 p.m. and raining hard. When I saw my husband again, his eyes were blindfolded. When he saw me, he cried. He embraced me. He was asking for an apology and told me he has no fault.

I asked him, “Why are you asking for an apology? I kept on looking for you.”

I don’t know what would be the charges that will be filed against him. I thought he was dead already.

He told me, “Whatever you see on my body, don’t tell anyone.”

I asked him why.

He told me they were warned that, if he told his wife, they would kill her.

I asked him to tell me. He told me what they did to him.

According to Alex, he was taken from our house blindfolded, handcuffed and gagged. He was carried and placed in the corner of a white pickup truck without a plate number.

He was brought to a place and tortured. He was asked to admit to a crime that he didn’t commit, and no arrest warrant was showed to him. He does not know the perpetrators because his eyes were blindfolded. He was beaten up—even his stomach—causing him to vomit blood. Lots of things were done to him. He was forced to admit to a crime. A wet face towel was placed inside his mouth. Then he was turn upside down in a drum in a restroom. He lost consciousness for almost an hour. Whenever he moved his head, they would place him in the drum. After that, he woke up and thought of his young children that he left in our house. Maybe that’s why Allah helps him to live.

And then he was asked to admit to a crime.

He told me, “Why would I admit it if I didn’t do anything wrong?

He was a laborer at the fish port. He didn’t do anything. He is a good person; but because [those who arrested him] are policemen, he was forced to admit to the charges. He was thinking of his young children. He admitted to the crime, but he did not commit it. Lots of things were done to him. I even saw his feet and hands with blood at Camp Lira. His cheek was bruised because he was tied. His chest and ribs cage were swelling. His feet and body had bruises because he was beaten up. And then, when he was with Toroctocon, I saw his body full of bruises. He was complaining about his rib cage. He asked for money to buy medicine.

I went to a Maranao [an ethnic tribe] policeman and told him to go to the jail because my husband is asking for medicine.

Q: Did Alex Salipada undergo medical treatment?

A: The police said he underwent medical treatment, but I don’t know where. We were not used to following up. I was only thinking of my children. I am thinking about why he was arrested. He is innocent. My mind is blank. I didn’t think to go to the clinic because they told me they already went.

Q: What do you want us to do in Alex’s case?

A: I want you to help us so my husband will be released because my children are suffering. I am the only one working for eight years. I pity my children because sometimes I can’t give them anything for school. That’s why they are crying.

When they are crying, I am also crying. I pity them. I really want to send them to school even though we are poor. I want them to study. I want my husband to be released. We need him. I’m not lying. I am a hadji [who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca]. My husband is an imam. He doesn’t have vices. Sometimes I am asking myself, Why did this happen to us? We are kind individuals. My husband is a kind-hearted person. We praise Allah. I don’t know why this trial is given to us. I hope he will be released soon because we need him. We are having a hard time.

Q: What can you say about the case in Regional Trial Court Branch 35 that will be transferred to Manila? What do you feel about that?

A: When I heard about transferring [the case] to Manila, I can’t speak. It’s like my head is full. I want him to stay here. How can we go to Manila to visit him? It is difficult for us to buy one kilo of rice. How much more the fare to Manila? We want him to stay here because sometimes, when we have extra money, we can visit him. I am worried about my husband because he is hypertensive. He might have an attack and die.


* The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is a regional non-governmental organization monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984. More information is available on AHRC’s web site at <http://www.ahrchk.net/index.php>.