Tagakolu farmer on torture by Army Corporal and SCAA: “Hapit ko mamatay ato”

BARANGAY DEMOLOC, Malita, Davao Occidental (MindaNews/14 March) – “Hapit ko mamatay ato” (I nearly died), Tagakolu farmer Orlando “Kaido” Engo declared as he narrated how an Army Corporal and four members of the SCAA (Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary) tortured him and his 15-year old son on February 19 for a crime he said they did not commit.

Kaido was still grimacing in pain while pointing to his chest which, he said, suffered heavy blows from rifle butts, fists and “dako kaayo nga kahoy nga kape” (huge truncheon from a coffee tree). “Sakit gihapon” (it’s still painful), he told MindaNews on Friday (March 11), a day after reports came out that his tormentors had been relieved and taken to the 72nd Infantry Battalion camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley for investigation.

Kaido’s left wrist, which also received beatings, continues to bother him and prevents him from climbing coconut trees to do his work as “mananggiti” (tuba gatherer).

Orlando "Kaido" Engo narrates his ordeal during an interview at Malita Tagakaulo Mission, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental on March 11, 2016. The 52-year old farmer was accused of masterminding a robbery and was subjected to torture by Army Cpl. Sandy Batolbatol and members of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) under the 72nd Infantry Battalion. The military is currently conducting an investigation after seeing a video posted on Facebook. The chair of the Commission on Human Rights has also ordered an investigation. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO Orlando “Kaido” Engo narrates his ordeal during an interview at Malita Tagakaulo Mission, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental on March 11, 2016. The 52-year old farmer was accused of masterminding a robbery and was subjected to torture by Army Cpl. Sandy Batolbatol and members of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) under the 72nd Infantry Battalion. The military is currently conducting an investigation after seeing a video posted on Facebook. The chair of the Commission on Human Rights has also ordered an investigation. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

The 52-year old coconut and corn farmer still has difficulty talking and blames it on the truncheon that Corporal Sandy Batol-batol and four members of the SCAA put under his chin while they were interrogating him, his back on the wall, and raising him until his feet could no longer touch the floor.

He said he was punched, kicked, beaten, humiliated and subjected to extreme cold through the use of ice in violation of RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

The law states that physical torture is “a form of treatment or punishment inflicted by a person in authority or agent of a person in authority upon another in his/her custody that causes severe pain, exhaustion, disability or dysfunction of one or more parts of the body” including, among others, systematic beating, punching, kicking, striking with truncheon or rifle butt or other similar objects, and harmful exposure to the elements such as sunlight and extreme cold.

Viral video

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After the mauling inside the SCAA detachment, a stone’s throw from the barangay hall and the house of barangay chair Bellarita Alcordo, Kaido, his son Jerome and the 14-year grandnephew Ian, were brought to the steps fronting the basketball court, and there made to sit with ice between their armpits, groins and buttocks, and bathed with iced buckets of water.

The latter part of this act of torture on the steps of the SCAA base was captured on phone video which was shown days later to Fr. Joey Ganio Evangelista, head of the Malita Tagakolu Mission (MaTaMis) in Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc.

Evangelista told MindaNews at the Mission house on Friday that he posted the video and his account on Kaido’s torture on Facebook (see other story) late afternoon Wednesday, March 9. Within hours the post became viral and by 11:30 p.m. that same day, Batol-batol and the SCAA were relieved.

Pfc Alonzo Pepito, SCAA officer in charge at the time of MindaNews’ visit last Friday, said they arrived at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday to take over the post that would be vacated by Batolbatol and the SCAA members who were relieved near midnight and brought to the 73rd IB camp in Barangay Felis, Malita, before they were transported to the 72nd IB camp in Compostela Valley.

“Naa kay atraso”

Kaido recalls how three SCAA members arrived in his house in Sitio Kaninan at around 8 a.m. on Friday, February 19 – two of them he knew as Bantam and Jerome – to inform him they were taking him to the barangay hall “kay naa kay atraso” (because you committed a crime).

“Unsa may akong atraso, Sir?” (What crime did I commit, Sir?), Kaido asked. He was told his “apo” (grandchild) robbed the store of Junjun Bajenting. They were referring to Ian, his 14-year old grandnephew who lives far away from him and who has had a string of robbery complaints including three ducks owned by the Mission.

Kaido, whose wife died ten years ago, lives alone.

As they were walking towards the barangay hall, Kaido said he saw his 15-year old son, Jerome, his hands tied behind his back.

When they crossed the river where a bridge is under construction, Kaido said his son was “gipalunang giparehas sa kabaw” (he was treated like a carabao), his head dunked twice in water.

Residents of Demoloc cross a river where Jerome Engo was submerged by members of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) with his arms tied behind his back on February 19 before he was brought to the SCAA headquarters where he was beaten and bathed in buckets of cold water. AMindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO Residents of  Sitio Matamis in Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental  cross a river where 15-year old Jerome Engo, whose hands were tied behind his back,  was treated like a carabao by members of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) on February 19.  Jerome was  later brought to the SCAA detachment where he was beaten and bathed in buckets of cold water.  MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

Kaido was not brought to the barangay hall. Instead, he was brought to the SCAA detachment nearby.

There, Batol-batol asked if he was Kaido, took out the “kahoy nga kape” which the SCAA personnel later told MindaNews Batol-batol threatened to use on erring SCAA members) and asked him if he ordered Ian to rob the store, as Ian claimed. 

“Wala ko nagsugo, Sir. Layo nang ilang gipuy-an” (I did not order him, Sir. They live far from me), Kaido replied.

Kaido said Batolbatol pointed to Ian and asked him who ordered him to rob the store. Ian said it was Kaido. Kaido denied the allegation. Batolbatol used the truncheon to hit his buttocks around ten times.

Gisumbag, gitadyakan

Not contented, Kaido said Batolbatol gave the truncheon to Ian and ordered him to beat Kaido and beat him hard “kay kung dili nimo kusgan, ako’y mubunal sa iya” (if you won’t beat him hard, I will.” Ian beat him thrice.

Kaido recalls having been made to sit on a chair. “Gipalingkod ko diha sa silya. Giatubang ko ni Batolbatol unya gisumbag ko niya diri (points to chest), balik-balikan niyag kinumo ba. Sunod naa na pud mga SCAA, sumbag, gitadyakan ko nilag tiil, gikumo… Usahay tadyakan ko nilag tiil” (They made me sit on a chair. Batolbatol faced me and punched me here, repeatedly. Then the SCAA came to punch me, kick me, punch me… Sometimes they kicked me).

This they did repeatedly on various parts of his body until he fell on the floor but Batolbatol pulled him up and inflicted more blows. He pointed to where his head suffered a “bukol” (lump).

FATHER AND SON. Orlando "Kaido" Engo and his 15-year old son Jerome narrate their ordeal from the hands of Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and Army Corporal Sandy Batolbatol of the 72nd Infantry Battalion during an interview at Malita Tagakolu Mission, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental on March 11, 2016. The 52-year old farmer and his son were subjected to torture on February 19 at the SCAA detachment. A video was posted on Facebook last March 9, prompting the military to conduct an investigation. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO FATHER AND SON. Orlando “Kaido” Engo and his 15-year old son Jerome narrate their ordeal inthe hands of Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) and Army Corporal Sandy Batolbatol of the 72nd Infantry Battalion during an interview at the Malita Tagakolu Mission, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental on March 11, 2016. The 52-year old farmer and his son were subjected to torture on February 19 at the SCAA detachment. A video was posted on Facebook last March 9, prompting the military to relieve the personnel pending investigation. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

He said he was forced to sign an admission that he ordered Kaido to rob the store. “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,’” Evangelista wrote.

Jerome was not spared the beatings. “Gi-padol ko” (I was paddled), referring to how they used the truncheon on the 15-year old’s buttocks.

The 14-year old Ian, who has had a string of cases of stealing, was not mauled but along with Kaido and Jerome, subjected to an iced bath.

Iced bath

After the mauling inside, Kaido, Jerome and Ian were brought outside and made to sit on the steps for the final act of putting ice between their armpits, their groins and buttocks and bathing them with iced water.

Barangay chair Alcordo and barangay tanods as well as residents in the area told MindaNews that this was a usual means of “disiplina para matagam” (discipline to teach them a lesson).

Alcordo, who lives a stone’s throw from the SCAA detachment, said no one reported to her what was happening and that she was surprised when she went to the barangay hall because there were plenty of people around and that was when she was told there was an ice bathing scene earlier. Alcordo passes by the SCAA base on the way to her office.

A tattered Philippine flag hangs outside the headquarters of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) in Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental in this photo taken on March 11, 2016. On these steps, Tagakolu farmer Orlando “Kaido” Engo, his 15-year old son Jerome and 14-year old grandnephew were made to sit and bathed with iced water. The tattered flag was removed after MindaNews told the officer-in-charge that they should replace the flag. The Flag and Heraldic Code provides that flags that begin to show signs of wear and tear “shall be replaced immediately.” MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO A tattered Philippine flag hangs outside the detachment of the Special CAFGU Armed Auxiliary (SCAA) in Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao Occidental in this photo taken on March 11, 2016. On these steps, Tagakolu farmer Orlando “Kaido” Engo, his 15-year old son Jerome and 14-year old grandnephew were made to sit and bathed with iced water. The tattered flag was removed after MindaNews told the officer-in-charge that they should replace the flag. The Flag and Heraldic Code provides that flags that begin to show signs of wear and tear “shall be replaced immediately.” MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

The SCAA, supervised by Batolbatol, arrived in Demoloc around mid-year last year. In the narrative Fr. Evangelista posted on Facebook, said the SCAA is “an armed militia group created by the incumbent Gov. Claude Bautista.”

Alcordo told MindaNews: “Nagpatraining man mi ug SCAA. Private man na sila ni governor. Kanang SCAA.” (We asked for a SCAA training. They are a private force of the governor).

Alcordo admits the robbery case should have been brought to her attention as barangay chair and that she should have issued the order to the barangay tanods to get the suspects and the aggrieved storeowner to discuss if the case could be settled amicably.

“Para matagam”

She said she asked the storeowner if he would want the suspects sent to prison but the storeowner told her “dili na Kap kay gidisiplina na” (never mind Kap because they were disciplined already).

Alcordo said she was surprised about the mauling and that it was the first time she heard about it, but admitted that the ice bathing was something they had become used to.

“Sa akong pagkahibalo naa gyud ginaliguan lang na sila. Basta dunay makasala diri nga gaabuso, siempre i-endorse na nako sa ilaha sila na bahala para matagam kanang mga gabinuang. Pero walay ginakulata,” (What I know is they are bathed with ice. When someone commits a wrong, is abusive, I endorse to them and they take care of the disciplinary action so that the person who committed a wrong will learn a lesson). But no mauling, she explained.

Alcordo said that even before the 72nd IB and the SCAA came to Demoloc, “ingon ana na gyud nang style diri kay dugay na man naay mga sundalo diri” (that has been the style here because soldiers have been assigned here for long).

But Alcordo said that in the past, the disciplinary action taken on erring residents was “ginapasalom sila sa punong” (let them wallow in the fishpond) but sometime in 2014-2015, “ang ilang silot ginapaliguan na” (their punishment has been bathing with iced water).

Residents told MindaNews that in barangay activities such as disco, when somebody gets “maoy” (drunk and unruly), they are brought to the SCAA detachment and are bathed with iced water.

“Gi-torture na”

Barangay tanod Totse Sumbo and barangay hall utility worker Mario Sukandil said a visiting worker from the Department of Social Welfare and Development who witnessed what happened on the steps of the SCAA office, said “di na pwede. Gi –torture na” (That should not be. That’s torture) and teachers who passed by kept saying “tama na” (enough) but Batolbatol and the SCAA did not stop.

Sumbo said that as tanods, they could not also stop what was happening because Kaido and company were already in the custody of Batolbatol and the SCAA.

HOME. Orlando “Kaido” Engo, 52, and 15-year old son Jerome on their way home in Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc on March 11. Kaido said he will file charges against the Army corporal and four SCAA members. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO HOME. Orlando “Kaido” Engo, 52, and 15-year old son Jerome on their way home in Sitio Matamis, Barangay Demoloc on March 11. Kaido said he will file charges against the Army corporal and four SCAA members. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO

Kaido remembers how they put ice on his buttocks. “Gibutangan pa ning ilok nako diri ug ice, diri sa akong kinatawo tapos giliguan ko nila. Gisugo si Bantam, ‘ligui ni.’ Kung hinay ang pagbutang tubig sa kabo, ingon sya (Batolbatol) punua, pun-a gyud na para silutan nato nig ensakto ba” (They also put ice between my armpits, in my groin then they poured iced water on me. Bantam was ordered ‘bathe them.’ If the pouring of the water was slow, he’d say fill up the dipper so we can punish them properly).

“Si Kaido himamatyon na”

The physicaly weak Kaido went home crawling. He said Ian went after him and apologized for implicating him in the crime he committed.

When Kaido reached home, he could hardly move. A neighbor who saw his condition called on other neighbors, “si Kaido himamatyon na” (Kaido is dying), and they carried him to the house of a friend before proceeding to Malita town proper for medical exam and the police blotter.

The medical certificate issued by Dr. Richard Calzada of the Malita District Hospital showed Kaido had a 5cm laceration on his head, “contusion hematoma anterior chest, swelling hematoma at left wrist, hematoma at buttocks area.”

During the barangay mediation on March 8, Batolbatol apologized to Kaido and offered an amicable settlement of P50,000 and a motorcycle. Kaido refused the offer.

He said he told Batolbatol, “Di ko mudawat. Maayog baboy ko kay bayran ko nimo” (I will not accept that. I am not a pig that you will pay off).

Kaido is preparing charges against Batolbatol and the SCAA members for what they did to him and his son.
Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon, chair of the Commmission on Human Rights has ordered the investigation (see other story) into the reported torture.  (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)