Torture in the Philippines: "We now understand our rights"

By Gemma Regina Cunanan Director of Amnesty Philippines,

On 16 February, Jerryme Corre celebrated his birthday, joined by his wife and Amnesty Philippines staff at Angeles City Jail. Jerryme has spent the last three years imprisoned there after police allegedly tortured him into a confession. Gemma Regina Cunanan, Director of Amnesty Philippines, describes the day.

When Jerryme walked out to meet us on Monday at Angeles City Jail, his smile was wide.  Our team from Manila had brought thousands of letters from all over the world – and a cake.  

I can never give enough thanks. These [letters] give me strength. It also gives courage to my wife. We are not alone in this fight. Many people also seek justice for us."
Jerryme Corre

They weren’t the first letters Jerryme had seen from Amnesty activists. In fact, when Jerryme described all the letters he had received from around the world, he seemed unable to contain his happiness. He told us of letters from New Zealand, from Belgium, from Canada, from South Korea, from Spain, from within the Philippines and more. 

Jerryme explained how, without ever knowing him, these people had given him huge comfort and encouragement, "I can never give enough thanks. These [letters] give me strength. It even changed the course of my case as compared to before. It also gives courage to my wife. We are not alone in this fight. Many people also seek justice for us."  He told us that after he read the letters, his wife would bring them home, to read and reread.  There were times however, that she could not bear to read the letters: they made her cry. 

We are no longer fearful because we know that Jerryme should never have been tortured.
Jerryme Corre's wife

One thing Jerryme kept repeating was how he had been transformed.  His wife told us, “There was a time when Jerryme felt so hopeless, and we did not know what to do.”  He had felt scared for his wife because of the police who tortured him.  But with Amnesty’s support, Jerryme and his wife had acquired hope and had grown to understand their rights.  Jerryme’s wife summed up their new courage: “we are no longer fearful because we know that Jerryme should never have been tortured.”

The case related to Jerryme’s torture allegations is currently being heard in the Philippines.  A verdict could be reached this year, and if so, this will be the first time in the country that a torture complaint is decided by a court. It is hoped that Amnesty’s support will help Jerryme continue his fight for justice.