MANILA, Philippines?A TV news video of a holdup suspect allegedly being tortured by a Manila police precinct commander Wednesday led to his suspension and that of his 21 officers and an investigation by three agencies, officials said.
Tuesday?s ABS-CBN footage, shot with a cell phone camera, showed a naked and bound man, grimacing apparently in great pain on the floor of what was described as the precinct station on Asuncion Street in Tondo district.
A man identified as Senior Insp. Joselito Binayug, the precinct chief, was tugging at a string tied to the genitals of the victim, who remained unidentified, each time he failed to answer questions.
ABS-CBN said the man later died. Details on the victim have not been officially released. The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried but failed to get a comment from Binayug.
Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, director of the Manila Police District, said the person who shot the footage should come forward to identify those in the video but that he would understand if fear prevented this.
?There are other ways to build our case,? he said.
Magtibay said he visited the Asuncion precinct on Tuesday and found that it did seem to be the place where the video was taken.
PNP vows swift action
The incident was roundly condemned by officials of the Philippine National Police, Department of Justice and Commission on Human Rights who all decided to conduct separate investigations.
?Such actions do not have any place in an organization that espouses respect for human rights,? said PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa.
?Any form of brutality and abuse of authority by PNP personnel will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly and decisively according to our own disciplinary rules and internal policy,? Verzosa added.
Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz, PNP spokesperson, said all 22 officers had been relieved and their liability for violation of Republic Act No. 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, would be investigated. He said the men also would undergo neuropsychiatric tests.
Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim said the precinct would be converted into an ?outpost? while its members were being investigated.
?That?s inhumane. That kind of maltreatment of the suspect should not be countenanced,? Lim said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima described the scene caught in the video as a ?ghastly sight.?
She said her department would investigate the incident and prosecute those involved ?to the fullest extent of the law.?
?Torture cases are not exclusive to any one body or agency,? De Lima said in a statement. ?A strong message must be sent to all those who would engage in torture that this practice will not be tolerated and will, in fact, be strenuously punished.?
According to De Lima, the incident could be a good test case for the Anti-Torture Act to see if it could be ?an effective tool for greater accountability and diminished impunity.?
?There is no place within our law enforcement agencies for individuals capable of engaging in something so utterly worthy of universal condemnation,? she said.
Human Rights Commissioner Cecilia Quisumbing said a family had gotten in touch with her office to say that a kin missing since March ?looked close enough? like the man in the video. She said she would help the family view the ABS-CBN video.
Since Jan. 1, 2009, 13 cases of torture against members of the military and the police have been filed in the Commission on Human Rights. With reports from Alcuin Papa, Marlon Ramos, Leila B. Salaverria and Mikko Morelos