MANILA, March 20, 2011 (AFP) – The Philippine military was rocked Sunday by a fresh “torture” video purporting to show troops abusing trainees as it moved to cleanse its ranks of rogue soldiers.
The 14-minute video uploaded on Youtube showed soldiers beating a group of young recruits using ropes and sticks as loud screams could be heard in the background.
The military admitted the video was taken during an “escape and evasion” training exercise three years ago in eastern Bicol region, but stressed the painful hazing had already been outlawed and was a “thing of the past.”
“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,” said regional army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc.
The video, he said, was allegedly uploaded by a group which is a known front for communist guerrillas.
He said trainers who acted as opposing forces were only authorized to threaten the trainees with force but not subject them to real harm.
In most cases, he said, the trainees were only blindfolded as they were made to listen to their colleagues faking torture screams in a bid to scare them.
“In the so-called torture video posted in the Internet, some trainers were seen beating the captives with ropes and small sticks,” he admitted.
“This is unacceptable because undue harm is already inflicted on the soldier.”
He said the training was later scrapped because it proved to be “counter-productive.”
The video came a month after military authorities launched an investigation into a purported video of Marines beating up four captives as they moaned in pain in a coconut grove somewhere in the southern Philippines.
In the video, which was widely circulated on Facebook, the troops could be seen kicking the men in the head and back as they lay defenseless, blindfolded and with their hands tied behind their backs.
One soldier could be heard saying: “Let’s butcher these sons of bitches elsewhere, we might have trouble carrying them.”