Panelo: Strip searching inmates OK, but leaking of photos not
The President’s chief legal counsel sees nothing wrong with the hundreds of inmates sitting naked while being searched for contraband at the Cebu provincial jail if it was for security purposes.
“Personally? Sa akin eh kung security ang pag-uusapan, eh siguro kailangang ganoon (If we are talking about security, it was a necessary move),” lawyer Salvador Panelo said in an interview over government-run dzRB radio.
But Panelo said the photos of the naked prisoners should not have leaked or released to the public.
“Ang dapat lang nila pangalagaan, ang hindi ma-expose sa public ‘yung naked body ng isang bilanggo. They should also be careful na ‘yung mga nakahubad ay hindi photographed at mailabas sa public,” he said.
(They should have been more careful that the naked bodies of the prisoners would not be exposed in public. They should also be careful that the photographs of the naked prisoners would not be exposed in public.)
‘Yan ang dapat na ingatan nila kasi nilalabag mo na ‘yung privacy naman nung tao. Pero kung diyan lang sa loob ng bilangguan, sila-sila lang ang nakakakita, sa tingin ko pwede ‘yun para sa security process,” he added.
(That’s what they should be more careful about because they are already violating a person’s privacy. But if it was just in jail and they are just the ones doing the search and seeing them, I think it’s okay for security purposes.)
Photos of inmates stripped naked during a surprise inspection by antidrug operatives have caused uproar among human rights groups and the public.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday investigated the incident and talked to the affected inmates.
The investigation was led by CHR Visayas (CHR-7) head Leo Villarino to find out whether the prisoners’ rights were violated during the inspection.
Villarino said that under the United Nations’ Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners, stripping prisoners of their clothes were allowed for security purposes during jail raids.
“But in stripping prisoners naked, intrusive searches are strictly prohibited,” he said.
PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said he welcomed the investigation conducted by the CHR.
“I take full responsibility of what happened. I better face criticisms than having one of my agents get stabbed by the inmates,” Ruiz said in an interview. IDL
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