PHILIPPINES: A man was tortured and falsely charged with extortion and possession of illegal drugs after returning a missing mobile phone

On August 22, 2013 at 9 am, Saldy Sultan Pangsayan, of Katoli, Sultan Kudarat and his wife, Saguera, found a mobile phone and took it home. In Saldy’s testimony provided to the AHRC, he related what occurred after finding the phone:

“There are many calls (on the phone) but I didn’t know how to answer them. A few days later I figure out how to answer the calls and when the owner herself called I told her I would return her cell phone when I returned to General Santos City. The owner didn’t believe me and instead she accused of stealing her cellphone.

I returned to General Santos City last September 8, 2013 and we had an agreement with the owner to meet me at Roundball (roundabout) area of Bula, General Santos City, Mindanao at around 6 o’clock in the evening. After meeting up I was framed up by the owner and she told the police that I was demanding money from her in exchange for returning the cellphone.

When I returned the cellphone to the owne, her aunt gave me Pesos 3,000 (USD 69) as a reward. Then I quickly ride a tricycle, a local vehicle in the city to go home. Then a man riding on a motorcycle with another blocked my way. He shouted “don’t move we are policemen”. Then the two policemen handcuffed me and pushing and trampled my feet until I fell down. Then they punched my side and I felt as if there was a bullet on my ribs and I lost my consciousness.

When I woke up it was already 3am. I felt weak due to torture. I realized that I was wearing only short pants (his jeans were missing) and shirt. First the police brought me to the (Bula) Police Station No. 6 then after they transferred me to Police Station No. 4. The police officer also accused me of possessing illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. This is not true.

I know that I am only a religious businessman supporting the needs of my family”.

In their sworn statements, Saldy and his wife Saguera said they found the mobile phone. At no time did they demand any money from its owner for its return. The owner of the mobile phone however, deceived Sandy by promising him that she would pay a reward for finding the phone if he met her. Later the owner accused him of extorting money from her.

Furthermore, the police allegedly planted evidence of illegal drugs on him upon arrest, tortured him and forced him to admit he was using and selling drugs. Using on the supposed evidence that the police had planted on him and his confession under torture, Saldy was charged for extortion and possession of illegal drugs.