Military official: Torture of candidate soldiers is a thing of the past

A MILITARY official said 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” endured by the “captives,” Cabunoc said that the trainers who act as the opposing force (OPFOR) are allowed only to scare the others through the soldiers undergoing “torture.”

“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.

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, 45 in 2010 and nine so far in 2011. Verlin Ruiz

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