Dela Rosa's defense of secret jail cell shows 'ignorance' of law
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa showed his "ignorance" of the law when he defended the use of a secret jail cell in a Manila police station, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Saturday, April 29.
In a statement, CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon reminded the country's top cop of his duty to uphold the law, after Dela Rosa said he had no problem with the secret cell at the Manila Police Station 1, so long as cops were not corrupt and abusive.
“That he would choose, by his statements, to even justify the operation of this hidden jail as a necessary measure to address the problem of jail congestion also reflects his personal ignorance of both the constitutional and legal provisions that expressly prohibit the maintenance of secret detention facilities by public authorities,” Gascon said.
During a surprise inspection on Manila Police Station 1 on Thursday, April 27, Gilbert Boiser of CHR National Capital Region discovered 12 men and women allegedly illegally detained in a "lock-up cell" hidden behind a bookshelf.
On Saturday, Gascon urged Dela Rosa to refrain from making statements that seemingly condone the wrongdoing of his men.
"It is prudent that in matters that may involve malfeasance or misconduct by public officials – particularly when this affect fundamental human rights, as in this case – that their superiors refrain from making statements that appear to be condoning the same," Gascon said.
"Otherwise, to do so further encourages the climate of impunity that perpetuates wrongful action because the wrongdoers are not held accountable or punished. Bato shouldn't so quickly brush this aside!" he added.
CHR earlier said that the maintenance of secret jail cells is “absolutely prohibited" by law.
The CHR chair also challenged Dela Rosa to conduct an audit of all detention cells under the PNP following the discovery at the Manila jail.
“I challenge him to undertake a full audit of all places of detention under the control of the PNP to ensure no other cases akin or similar to what was uncovered in MPD Station 1 exists as I am concerned that this may not be an isolated incident,” Gascon said.
He also welcomed the "call" of the PNP chief for the CHR to conduct more jail visits.
"[We] are prepared to work with the PNP in undertaking this full review and audit of all places of detention," he said.
Gascon said Dela Rosa had ignored a months-old CHR request on "how we might all explore ways and means to guarantee that all human rights to all persons are guaranteed at all times such as when law enforcers conduct their operations."
President Rodrigo Duterte had promised to "look into" the secret jail cell used to detain suspected drug personalities.– Rappler.com