CHR recommends charges vs cops over secret jail cell in Tondo
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) "with utmost urgency" recommended before the Office of the Ombudsman the filing of administrative and criminal charges against police in relation to the secret jail cell discovered in Tondo, Manila.
In a report submitted on Wednesday, May 10, the CHR said it found probable cause for the Ombudsman to file charges against former station commander Superintendent Robert Domingo and all other Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel of Manila Police District-Raxabago Police Station 1 (MPD Station 1).
The cops who maintained the secret jail cell discovered by the CHR on April 27 – with about 12 men and women detained inside – allegedly violated several laws in the Revised Penal Code (arbitrary detention, grave threats, grave coercion, and robbery/extortion) as well as the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
The CHR also said the policemen may be administratively liable for violating rules under the PNP Operational Procedures.
CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit hopes the PNP will cooperate to hold accountable those behind the "absolutely prohibited" detention cell.
"We hope that the PNP will fully cooperate with the CHR and the Office of the Ombudsman in holding the erring police officers accountable for their actions and lapses that have violated their mandate and motto to serve and protect," she said.
Protect 'Raxabago 12'
Domingo, who has been relieved pending investigation, claimed the detainees were locked up as their documents were still being "processed." He further blamed the two-day ASEAN Summit holiday for the police's failure to immediately file charges against the drug suspects.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde had "welcomed" the surprise visit of the CHR, describing it as an "eye-opener" on the condition of jails in the country.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, meanwhile, had criticized the CHR and defended his personnel, saying they are not abusive or corrupt. But Dela Rosa later apologized to the CHR, acknowledging that the commission was just doing its job. (READ: Gov't failure? That's all CHR sees – Dela Rosa)
It was also reported that the detainees – dubbed the "Raxabago 12" – retracted their previous statements claiming torture in the hands of the police.
The CHR, however, confirmed receiving reports that the detainees were being pressured into changing their testimonies.
"We urge the PNP and Director General Dela Rosa to guarantee the safety and security of the 'Raxabago 12,' their kin, and others who will come forward with knowledge of similar abuses," Gomez-Dumpit said.
"We urge him to direct all officers in charge of investigating this case within the PNP to prevent the officers involved [from] accessing the victims and their families." – Rappler.com