Tondo cell no secret, police probers say
Investigators from the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (IAS) found that a “secret cell” inside a Manila police station was not secret after all and the officers responsible for it did not violate human rights or police regulations, IAS Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo said on Wednesday.
Triambulo said an IAS fact-finding team reported that the 10 detainees in the Raxabago Police Station cell bore no torture marks, were allowed visitors and underwent inquest proceedings 18 hours after their arrest.
“They did not see any human rights violation … That was the result of their investigation,” he said.
He added that the “secret cell” served only as a “holding cell” and local barangay officials knew about its existence.
“They got testimony (from the detainees’ relatives) and two barangay chairs even made a certification that (the cell) had existed publicly for a long time, so that means that is not secret detention,” Triambulo said.
The IAS investigated the case after the one-meter by five-meter narrow, windowless and smelly cell was discovered on April 27 by lawyers from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) who had been tipped off by unidentified informants.
Following the discovery, Raxabago station chief Supt. Robert Domingo and the 12 members of his station’s Drug Enforcement Unit were relieved.
Triambulo said that an IAS precharge investigator was supposed to review the fact-finding team’s conclusions, but the review was cut short after the CHR last week asked the Office of the Ombudsman to look into possible cases of arbitrary detention, grave threats, grave coercion, robbery, extortion and maltreatment, and torture of the “secret” detainees against the Raxabago station officers.
“What happened was even before the papers were completed, the CHR filed a case before the Ombudsman so immediately I directed the fact-finding team to give the results, which I had not seen at that time, to the Ombudsman because it might help,” he said.
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