MANILA – House Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia on Wednesday sought a congressional inquiry into the naked strip-search of inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
In a speech, Garcia decried the prison's tagging as another hub of illegal drug operations, aside from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, which allegedly triggered prisoners to be stripped naked and searched for contraband items.
“The drug trade inside the CPDRC continues to flourish and second, the conduct of the raid has caused Amnesty International and other human rights groups and ordinary citizens to rightfully decry [the strip-search] as abhorrent and violative of the rights of the inmates,” she said.
Garcia blamed the issue on incumbent Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III.
"The buck stops with him,” she said.
She also lamented the attention that the issue got on social media. Photos of the prisoners sitting unclothed in the prison went viral last week, with netizens expressing outrage over the strip search, and were picked up by local and international media.
“Critics of the President were quick to compare the operation to the Auschwitz concentration camps built by Nazi Germany during World War 2,” she said.
She said that it was wrong to blame Duterte for the incident as the order did not come from him, but allegedly from Davide.
Garcia also criticized at Vice-President Leni Robredo, who denounced the incident. “I am not sure if the Vice-President was aware that it was Davide, her partymate from the Liberal Party, who ordered the raid and stripping naked of the inmates,” Garcia said.
The regional director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency denied accusations of rights abuses during the operation at the CPDRC.
PDEA Regional Director Yogi Ruiz said the prisoners removed their clothes inside their detention cells before they went to the jail quadrangle. Men and women were also brought to separate areas, with female officers searching women prisoners.
The Commission on Human Rights is conducting a probe into the anti-drug operation at the CPDRC.