PILI, Camarines Sur - A military official has admitted the occurrence of the alleged ‘torture’ of candidate soldiers as a ‘thing of the past’.
Major Harold Cabunoc, Spokesperson of the 9th Infantry Division said that the video was taken during the Escape and Evasion (locally known as “Echo-echo”) practical exercises of the Candidate Soldier Course Class 185-2008 about three years ago.
“The Escape and Evasion exercise used to be part of the military training wherein the ‘captive soldiers’ are subjected to simulated physical pains endured during their captivity. As loyal soldiers, they are not supposed to divulge sensitive information to the enemy except their serial numbers,” said Cabunoc.
Asked about the ‘beating’ underwent by the ‘captives’, Cabunoc said that the trainers who act as the ‘opposing force’ (OPFOR), are allowed only to ‘threaten’ the others by the ‘grimacing pain’ endured by the soldiers who were ‘tortured’ by the ‘enemy’.
“In my personal experience as a Scout Ranger trainee, our trainers put a squad of soldiers inside a dark room where they are being ‘tortured’ while the others were waiting outside hearing the loud screams. Actually, our Instructors directed us to scream as loud as we can as if we were being strangled and mauled so that the others will be scared to death. This technique works to some of our classmates who were shivering in fear when they were summoned for their turn,” explained Cabunoc.
“In the so-called “9ID Torture Video” posted in the internet, some trainers were seen beating the ‘captives’ with ropes and small sticks. This is unacceptable because undue harm is already inflicted upon the soldier. This is not the correct way to mold a warrior-leader. Actually, this incident led to the sacking and meting of administrative sanctions on the involved personnel from the Division Training Unit.”
Responding to this incident a letter directive was handed down from Headquarters Philippine Army in 2009, scrapping the Escape and Evasion subject from the program of instruction (POI) of the basic military training.
“Due to some abuses committed by a few trainers, the ‘Echo-Echo’ became counterproductive. The SOP Nr 9 HPA directive requires all training managers to abolish any form of maltreatment. Today, every soldier who finishes the basic training starting in 4Qtr 2009 can attest to the fact that a scientific approach to training is already enforced. As a result, trainees are required to sleep at 10:00pm, eat their rightful meals on time and jog using rubber shoes instead of the combat boots.”
Cabunoc revealed that the influx of thousands of applicants for the Candidate Soldier Course in the Bicol Region is the testament that military service is appealing to them. He said that at least 5,000 youngsters tried to join the latest batch of the Candidate Soldier Course which was opened here about a week ago.
Cabunoc lamented that the CPP-NPA-NDF (CNN) is trying to portray the soldiers as devilish individuals who don’t respect human rights.
“This is a grand scheme to discredit the positive accomplishments of the 9th ID in terms of human rights protection and countryside development. The CNN’s influence in this region has significantly dwindled due to their own misdemeanors. The NPA bandits have continued their policy of liquidating unarmed soldiers and militia forces, the latest of which was the killing of militiaman Gino Olugar in Camarines Sur on March 17, 2011.”
Records in the 9th Infantry Division show that 52 people were murdered by the NPA rebels in 2009 and 45 people in 2010.
In 2011, nine people have also perished in their murderous campaigns.
In February, 6 members of Pedrito Bico's family were massacred by NPA bandits in Libmanan town in Camarines Sur after refusing to pay the demanded 'revolutionary tax'.
On February 28, the communist rebels shot and killed two high school students Jason Nierbesa and Sandy Lozano in Camalig town in Albay after accusing them as robbers.
On March 17, the rebels have also owned up the murder of militiaman Gino Olugar, a rebel returnee who joined the fight against his former comrades for the past 4 years.
In their press statement (NDF Bicol website), the communist rebels bragged about the killings as part of their campaign to punish some individuals for 'offenses' against the masses.