MANILA - In a rare gesture, the head of the Metro Manila police on Friday thanked the Commission on Human Rights for shedding light on a secret jail facility where policemen allegedly illegally detained drug suspects.
"We express our gratitude to the CHR for taking time to inspect the detention cells of our stations so that they're able to see the real condition of these facilities," National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said in a statement.
"We must recognize that this problem is not just in one police station but almost in all our stations region-wide."
CHR has been the target of President Rodrigo Duterte's ire for raising the alarm on the deaths of thousands of drug suspects in his crackdown on narcotics.
On Thursday, CHR led members of the media to the Raxabago police station in Manila, where a dozen men and women were allegedly held in a secret cell.
CHR said there was no record of the arrest and inquest proceedings for the detainees.
The detainees meanwhile said cops have been holding them in the facility for a week, without notifying their families or lawyers. They also accused policemen of torturing them and demanding money for their freedom.
Albayalde assured the public that the police "will not tolerate any illegal act committed by our policemen."
He said he has ordered the relief of 13 officers from the Raxabago station, including its commander, Supt. Robert Domingo, in order to ensure an impartial probe into the hidden detention area.
Albayalde has also requested local government units to help build better detention cells for arrested individuals who are waiting for their commitment orders from the Bureau of Jail and penology.
"This is an eye opener for all of us to revisit the need for better cell detention and improvement of our jail facilities," he said.
Metro Manila's top cop also said he has tapped the CHR Atty. Wilhelm Soriano to reorient cops regarding human rights since his first day in office.