Torture jail shut down, Laguna police heads sacked
LAGUNA, Philippines – Almost a week after it was first revealed that police in Laguna were torturing inmates, the Philippine National Police (PNP) ordered the dismantling of a "lock-in" jail that belonged to the province's police intelligence units. (READ: PNP suspends 10 cops over 'torture' jail)
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigator Edgar de Luna, one of the investigators in the case, said police started dismantling the jail, located inside a residential subdivision in Biñan, Laguna.
When Rappler visited on Thursday, January 30, the dismantling had already started. A small structure which used to be the mess hall for officers and inmates had been dismantled. The dismantling actually started several days ago, said caretakers.
Only civillian caretakers occupy the rented house and lot, which will soon be turned over to its owner.
On Friday, January 24, the CHR revealed instances of "systematic" and "premeditated" torture inside the lock-in jail in Biñan. Intelligence police allegedly used a roulette to "choose" which form of torture to inflict on inmates – extortion of money, extraction of information, or a forced confession.
Most of the inmates in the lock-in jail are accused of pushing illegal drugs.
In an interview with Rappler, Region 4-A Chief of Police Jesus Gatchalian said that as of Wednesday, January 29, Laguna's intelligence personnel have been instructed to move to the Sta Cruz office. The jail in Biñan was only a satellite office.
About 44 inmates were detained at the lock-in jail run by the provincial intelligence police, because there was no space in the city's jails at the time. De Luna, however, said the lock-in jail is not meant for long-term detention. Intelligence police, he added, had "no capacity to detain."
Police heads sacked
Two police heads were sacked for "command responsibility" in connection with the torture jail: Laguna Police Chief Senior Superintendent Pascual Muñoz and Laguna Intelligence Head Superintendent Kirby John Kraft.
Gatchalian said Police Senior Superintendent Fausto Manzanilla has been appointed officer-in-charge of the Laguna police.
The 10 police officers accused of torturing at least 22 inmates have been relieved and are currently at the Region IV-A office in Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna. The summary dismissal proceedings for the 10 will also be held there. (READ: More victims in torture jail come forward)
Administrative charges for grave misconduct have been slapped on the 10, while the CHR continues its investigation for possible criminal charges against them.
Gatchalian said the torture jail case in Biñan is an indicator of the PNP's inadequate efforts to improve its human rights record.
"Bawat programa namin, nandoon parati 'yung human rights aspect. Kaya lang meron pa 'yung mga taong gumagawa ng mali. We are coming up with a study kung ano pa 'yung kulang para inculcate sa pulis," he said.
(All of our programs have a human right aspect. But there are those who still do wrong. We are coming up with a study to see what else is lacking and which need to be inculcated in the police.) – Rappler.com