IFUGAO Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is set to file a resolution calling on the House Committee on Human Rights to investigate the secret detention cells allegedly maintained by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as part of the so-called war against prohibited drugs.
On April 27, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) discovered in Raxabago Police Station in Tondo District, Manila, a detention area concealed from public view, where drug suspects were supposed to have been kept until they pay about P40,000 to P200,000 for their freedom.
The secret detention cell has been described as a narrow, windowless room with a lone urinal at one end, and which, at the time of its discovery by the CHR, had its lone entryway blocked by a bookshelf.
Following the discovery by the CHR, Metro Manila police director Chief Superintendent Oscar Abayalde relieved the Raxabago Police Station commander Superintendent Robert Domingo and the 12-man anti-drugs unit headed by Senior Inspector Edwin Fuggan, in order, according to Chief Superintendent Abayalde, to pave the way for an impartial investigation into the matter.
Baguilat said the relief ordered by Chief Superintendent Abayalde showed the PNP knew the maintenance of the hidden detention cell was irregular and deserves to be investigated.
This despite the statement of PNP Director General Bato dela Rosa that "as long as the prisoners were not tortured or extorted, it's okay with me."
Baguilat stressed the Philippine Constitution expressly prohibits the operation of secret sells. Article III Section 12 (2) provides that "secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are prohibited."
Likewise, Republic Act No. 9745, otherwise known as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, provides in part that "secret detention places, solitary confinement, incommunicado or other similar forms of detention, where torture may be carried out with impunity are hereby prohibited."
"The conflicting statements of the PNP leadership, especially the statements of Director General dela Rosa, indicate either an ignorance of or disrespect for the law, both of which are inexcusable for the chief protector of the Filipino people," Baguilat's resolution said.
Thus, Baguilat said there was a need to investigate the secret detention cells and the state of detention areas in police stations. There is still the presumption of innocence and suspects are still guaranteed inalienable rights including the right against torture or arbitrary detention.
"The state should ensure the protection of the rights of all Filipinos," he said. (PR)
Published in the SunStar Baguio newspaper on May 05, 2017.
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