Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009

The Department of Justice and the Commission on Human Rights jointly promulgated the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 which was published in newspapers of general circulation in December 2010. The Implementing Rules seek to implement the provisions of Republic Act No. 9745, entitled “An Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Prescribing Penalties Therefor.”

The Implementing Rules mostly just reiterates the provisions of the Anti-Torture Act, defining acts of torture and providing penalties for committing such acts, whether as principal, accomplice or accessory.  The Implementing Rules also reiterates that torture is a separate and independent crime and shall not absorb or be absorbed by any other crime or felony. Furthermore, persons guilty of torture shall not benefit from any special amnesty law or similar measures that will have the effect of exempting them from criminal proceedings or sanctions.

The Implementing Rules requires the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Corrections and other law enforcement agencies and local chief executives having jurisdiction over jails and detention centers to prepare an updated list of detention centers and facilities with the corresponding data on the prisoners or detainees therein. Such list shall be updated every month and shall be made available to the public at all times.

Victims of torture are given the right to a prompt and impartial fact-finding investigation within 60 days by the CHR, PNP, DOJ and other government agencies where the complaint was filed. The victim shall also be provided with sufficient government protection such as placing the persons under investigation under preventive suspension.  The victim and witnesses may also avail of the benefits under Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.

The penalty for torture shall be reclusion perpetua if the torture results in death or mutilation or if committed with rape or against children. Moreover, the statute of limitation or prescription period shall not apply to torture cases.

It took the DOJ and the CHR a year to formulate the Implementing Rules.  Our hope, though, is that these two agencies will not be as slow in the actual implementation of the law.