Senate probe into secret jail cell sought
MANILA, Philippines – Minority Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV has called for a Senate investigation into the secret jail cell discovered in the Raxabago Police precinct of the Manila Police District.
Aquino filed Senate Resolution No 348 on Tuesday, May 2, urging the chamber to probe the controversial cell. (READ: Explaining the PNP secret detention cell)
The senator said the Philippine National Police, as the implementer of the government's war on drugs, should punish erring policemen.
"As the government’s enforcement arms of its war against illegal drugs, the PNP should safeguard the public’s trust by ensuring that abusive policemen are investigated and punished accordingly," Aquino said in his resolution.
The senator also criticized PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa’s justification of the secret cell, saying it encourages a “culture of impunity.” (READ: Dela Rosa's defense of secret jail cell shows 'ignorance' of law)
"The attempts by some leaders of the police force, particularly PNP Chief Dela Rosa, to downplay and even justify the secret jail cell found in the Raxabago police station, is deeply concerning as it puts into question the PNP’s capacity to hold erring officials accountable for misconduct and abuse, and thereby encouraging and enabling a culture of impunity," Aquino added.
Citing the Bill of Rights, Aquino said "cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment" and secret detention are prohibited by the 1987 Constitution, a point earlier cited by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Chito Gascon.
Republic Act No 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, he added, prohibits “secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado…where torture may be carried out with impunity.”
President Rodrigo Duterte had said that he would "look into" the secret cell, which Kabayan Representative Harry Roque also wants probed in the House of Representatives.
In a surprise jail visit on Thursday, April 27, a team from the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) found around 12 men and women allegedly illegally detained in a "lock-up cell" hidden behind a bookshelf in Police Station 1 in Tondo, Manila. – Rappler.com