[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/172192452834041/videos/939010259485586/” width=”500″ height=”400″ onlyvideo=”1″]
DIGOS CITY (MindaNews/09 March) — Tagakolu farmer Orlando Engo of Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental was subjected to torture by Sgt. Sandy Batolbatol of the 72nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army together with Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) militiamen under his command last 19 February 2016.
This took place at their detachment in Demoloc just a few meters away from the barangay hall and a stone’s throw from the home of the Barangay Chair.
Orlando, or Kaido as he is commonly known, has sought the help of the Malita Tagakaulo Mission and the Mission is taking the necessary steps to get justice for Kaido.
The SCAA is an armed militia group created by the incumbent Gov. Claude Bautista. Kaido, who is 52 years of age, a widower and who lives by himself, was falsely accused of sending his fourteen-year-old grandson, Ian, to steal from a store in Sitio Matamis.
Fetched by the father of the store owner and three SCAA militiamen at his house on the morning of that day, Kaido proceeded to the barangay hall but was brought directly instead to the SCAA detachment where Sgt. Batolbatol had been waiting for him. Kaido’s son and Ian were also at the detachment. Sgt. Batolbatol accused Kaido of masterminding the theft in Matamis.
When Kaido denied the accusation the sergeant started beating the frail-framed Kaido with a piece of wood hitting his behind. The sergeant, in the Army for sixteen years and trained by the state for war to defend the country from foreign and domestic attacks, was beating the lights out of an innocent Tagakolu farmer who is only half his size! After hitting him ten times, Sgt. Batolbatol ordered Ian to beat up his grandfather; the boy complied.
Later, it was the turn of the SCAA militiamen. They hit Kaido on the head with a piece of wood. They repeatedly hit him with their fists on his side, on the chest and in the stomach. He heard someone say, “Admit to the crime even if you did not do it.”
Out of desperation Kaido did so believing that the beating would cease. To his horror, they were just warming up. The beatings continued without let up. The militiamen taunted him saying, “You finally admit that you are the mastermind of all the thefts in Matamis.”
Not satisfied with beating up Kaido, the militiamen placed ice under both his armpits, in his trousers by his bottoms and his groin. Then they poured ice cold water on him till his whole body was drenched!
After a severe beating, Kaido was subjected to extreme cold and he was now trembling horribly. All this was happening while women, children and men looked on. Many took pity on Kaido but were afraid to speak out; they did not want to get involved. Oddly, a few seemed to take pleasure in the “spectacle”, giggling like little boys with a new toy (see video)! All this took place a stone’s throw from the Barangay Chair’s house. Unable to take anymore, Kaido agreed to sign a document admitting to having sent his grandson to steal from the store. After that, he was allowed to go just like that as if nothing had happened.
Kaido had to crawl some part of the way to his house a few kilometers away from the barangay hall across the river and up the hill passing through a foot path far from the road; he could barely walk straight after what he had gone through. He was all alone and there was no one to assist him. When relatives heard of what had happened, he was brought on a stretcher to the home of a relative where they could look after him.
On the evening of that same day, Kaido, together with his daughter-in-law, proceeded to Malita to file a police report as well as have himself examined by a doctor. According to the doctor’s report, Kaido had a 5cm laceration on his head, “contusion hematoma anterior chest, swelling hematoma at left wrist, and hematoma at buttocks area.”
Kaido is able to move about but is still unable to work and is under the care of relatives. He was severely traumatized by the torture he was subjected to and by the humiliation that came with it.
Kaido has asked the help of the Mission. It is assisting him now and will continue to do so in whatever way it can so that Sgt. Batolbatol and the militiamen under his command may be brought to trial and be made to answer for their acts of cruelty.
Kaido’s case is only one of the numerous torture incidents in Demoloc and in the other mountain barangays of Malita. He, however, is the first person to stand up to the Philippine Army and the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary in Demoloc!
We ask for your prayers that this Army sergeant and the militiamen under his command be brought to trial.
Kaido’s complaint still has to hurdle sessions at the Barangay, which seems bent at keeping the case from leaving Demoloc for reasons that are still unclear. Pressure is mounting in Demoloc for Kaido to accept money from Sgt. Batolbatol in exchange for his silence.
At the Barangay hearing yesterday, Sgt. Batolbatol offered Kaido fifty thousand pesos (1,064 US Dollars) and his old motorcycle; the Barangay officials at the hearing were pressuring Kaido to accept. Kaido refused the offer saying he wanted this settled in court. Kaido is sticking to his guns, so are we.
(Fr. Joey Ganio Evangelista, MJ wrote this piece on March 9, 2016. Fr. Joey is priest-in-charge of the Malita Tagakaulo Mission in Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental, under the Diocese of Digos in Davao del Sur. He has been serving the Tagakaulo community for five years).
In a telephone interview with Captain Rhyan Batchar, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the 10th Infantry Division, Seargent Sandy Batolbatol has been recalled by his superiors to explain his actions. While Malita, Davao Occidental is under the 73rd Infantry Battalion, the detachment in Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc, Malita is under the command of 72nd Infantry Battalion.-ed