PNP starts probe of deaths of several Pasay City jail detainees
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has started investigating the deaths of several detainees at the Pasay City police jail purportedly due to health problems and heat.
According to PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, apart from a motu proprio investigation by the National Capital Region Police Office Internal Affairs Service (NCRPO-IAS), the Southern Police District has begun a probe into “the possible criminal aspect of the case.”
The internal affairs service will look into possible administrative lapses that may have occurred which contributed to the death, initially claimed to be due to natural causes, of the detainees of the Pasay City police.
Three men have died supposedly due to health problems since February at the congested detention facility of the Pasay City police.
Fainted due to heat
The latest was 30-year-old drug suspect Domingo de los Santos who, along with seven other detainees, was rushed to the Pasay City General Hospital on Wednesday night after fainting from the heat.
The Pasay City’s detention facility is a 22.8-square-meter space intended to hold only 40 people but currently houses more than thrice the number of detainees.
In a statement, Bulalacao said: “Inasmuch as the PNP wants to address the issue on overcrowded detention cells, we have to accept the fact that we only have limited available facilities.”
“Nonetheless, we are doing our best to include in the proposed budget the construction of new police station buildings with improved detention facilities,” he pointed out, adding that the PNP was facilitating the transfer of detainees with court commitment orders to jails managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The PNP spokesperson also assured that police investigators were closely coordinating with various courts to expedite the release of commitment orders so inmates at the police station holding cells could be transferred to BJMP jails while awaiting for the resolution of their cases in court.
According to Bulalacao, “If our request for funds for the construction of adequate police custodial facilities will be granted, the current situation in our jail facilities will be improved since we expect more arrests in the coming days as promised by the incoming PNP chief to sustain our campaign against illegal drugs and other forms of criminality.”
40 dead since July
Incoming PNP chief and NCRPO commander Director Oscar Albayalde told a radio interview on Friday morning that 40 inmates in different Metro Manila police station holding cells had died since July 2016.
Eight or nine of them, he said, were at the Pasay City police, “which is really congested.”
Albayalde pointed out that although these cells were only built as temporary detention facilities, more space should be allocated for detainees.
He said there were plans to move the Pasay City police station to a bigger location but until then, he assured that measures were being undertaken to decongest its holding cell.