Police torture chamber found in Laguna
MANILA, Philippines—A previously unlisted Philippine National Police detention facility in Laguna has been the venue for many instances of torture of its detainees, the Commission on Human Rights disclosed Friday.
The CHR announced at a news conference it had recently caused the relief of a police official and nine other officers of the PNP Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) in Biñan for the alleged maltreatment of suspected drug pushers.
“It came as a surprise that the PIB has detainees in their office, because they should be turning them over to the police stations,” said Jacqueline dela Peña, acting director of the CHR Regional Office 4. “Some (provincial) police officials were surprised there’s such a detention facility. The PNP had not informed us (about it).”
The PIB facility in Biñan, and consequently its detainees, were never included in the regular status report of all police custodial and detention centers which Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 requires the PNP to report to the CHR, dela Peñna said.
“Since they are an intelligence branch, it’s not the convention for them to maintain a detention facility,” she said, adding that the PIB in Biñan along with its detention facility is located in a residential subdivision in Barangay San Francisco.
While the detention cell could hold only 10 people, there were about 50 detainees as of the last count.
Acting on a complaint forwarded by the Public Attorney’s Office last January 9, investigators of the CHR Region 4 office found that 51 detainees had suffered beatings and electrocution in the hands of the police officers.
All the detainees were arrested on drug charges and many of them have been in detention since last year.
Dela Peña said the police officers allegedly tortured the detainees to extract confessions or information about their sources of drugs, or to extort money from them in exchange for being charged with lighter offenses or the dropping of the charges altogether.
Some were tortured for the police officers’ amusement when they got drunk, she alleged.
Only the old detainees were spared from maltreatment, she added.
According to the CHR’s report, the Laguna Police Provincial Office relieved last January 15 Chief Inspector Arnold Formento for command responsibility even if he did not participate in the alleged torture.
The rest who were relieved after being implicated were SPO 3 Bernardino Artisen; SPO 1 Alexander Asis; PO 3 Freddie Ramos and Renan Galang; POs 2 Marc Julius Ceazar, Melmar Baybayado, Mateo Cailo and Aldwin Paulo Tibuc; and PO1 Nelson Caribo.
The 10 officers were charged administratively with grave misconduct and ordered restricted inside Camp Sandigan in Barangay Bitin in Bay, Laguna, while they undergo a “moral recovery seminar.”
“This is not about protecting the human rights of criminals or suspects. It is about preventing the State from using its coercive power to hurt innocent civilians through its agents,” CHR Chairperson Loretta Rosales said during the news conference.
Dela Peña said only 15 detainees agreed to make formal complaints, including two minors (ages 16 and 17) and a woman, and were transferred to another detention facility.
The rest stayed put in the PIB Biñan apparently out of fear of reprisals, while others pointed out that their families would have a harder time visiting them in another facility.
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