CHR, PAO step in on cases of detainees ‘beaten to death’
A family from Caloocan City has sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) over the sudden death of a crime suspect while in jail, while the loved ones of a Quezon City detainee who met the same fate have approached the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) also to demand answers.
JP Porral, 36, died early Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the Caloocan police turned him over to the city jail, which is under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
“His body showed signs of severe beating,” said Porral’s older sister Roma Sukwahe. “We now want justice for my brother.”
According to Porral’s father Romeo, the BJMP did not even inform the family that JP had already died. They found out only when they went to the city jail to bring him food and clothes on Sunday, hours after he was declared dead supposedly because of “bangungot.”
Romeo said his son, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was arrested for an “old case” of frustrated homicide on June 8 at their house in Camarin, North Caloocan.
He said the police officers who took JP “refused to give their names” when they served the arrest warrant.
Porral was first taken to the city hall in Camarin, moved to the police station on Samson Road, then to the city jail on June 16.
Given the runaround
The family members, who belatedly learned that JP was already at the city jail, “were given the runaround there on Sunday until one of the inmates told us that (JP) was brought to CCMC (Caloocan City Medical Center) because he was said to have died in his sleep (binangungot daw),” Romeo said.
Rushing to the CCMC morgue, they found Porral’s body “bugbog-sarado (beaten black and blue)” and his clothes in tatters, the 64-year-old father recalled.
Senior Insp. Gerald Orias, officer in charge of BJMP’s community relations office, said the bureau’s Metro Manila office had been asked to submit to headquarters its report on Porral’s death, and that they would wait for a copy of Porral’s death certificate before issuing a statement.
The Porral family has sought help from the CHR, which had a seven-member team do an autopsy on JP’s body on Thursday. The results are expected next week.
Questions raised over Porral’s death echo those being asked about the case of Genesis Argoncillo, 22, who died on Tuesday morning while in the custody of the Quezon City Police District’s (QCPD) Station 4 in Novaliches.
On Thursday, PAO chief Persida Acosta said the Argoncillo family had sought her agency’s assistance.
Launching a probe, the National Capital Region Police Office ordered the relief of the Station 4 commander, Supt. Carlito Grijaldo, and the concerned jailer, PO3 Dennis Saño.
Speaking to the Inquirer on Wednesday, Argoncillo’s sister Marilou said Genesis was arrested by the QCPD simply for not wearing a shirt in the streets but was booked for alarm and scandal Friday last week.
In her last jail visit, she said, Argoncillo told her that he was being beaten up by his fellow inmates.
Argoncillo died in the hospital shortly after being seen gasping for air at the crowded detention cell of Station 4, according to a QCPD report.
Quoting the attending physician, QCPD director Chief Supt. Joselito Esquivel on Wednesday said the detainee’s body did not bear signs of external injuries.
Crime lab findings
But media reports on Wednesday night said Argoncillo’s death certificate, issued by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory, showed that he died from “multiple blunt force trauma.” It stated the manner the death as “homicide.”
On Thursday, Esquivel denied allegations that Argoncillo was a victim of police brutality, saying QCPD personnel are “under strict orders to follow PNP protocols calling for rights-based treatment of suspects and detainees.”
He stuck to his earlier statement that Argoncillo was last seen having difficulty breathing inside his cell before he was brought to the hospital.
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