MANILA - Initial investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) revealed that the so-called “Secret Detention Cell” in the Manila Police District Station (MPD) 1 Tondo, Manila has been there for more than five years.
Police officers formerly assigned at MPD Station 1 told the PNP-IAS they had long used the “secret jail” to keep their detainees.
Chief Superintendent Leo Angelo Leuterio, Deputy Inspector General of the PNP-IAS, said they are still gathering more intelligence information on the real purpose of the facility since they have encountered claims and counterclaims in the course of their investigation.
Leuterio also said they have interviewed police personnel who claim that the secret cell was actually used to accommodate an overflow of detainees.
“Statements ng mga taong previously nandoon tapos wala na doon. Yung mga information na pumapasok sa amin, coming from other people, like retired na mga pulis na dating nandon na nakukunan pa rin namin ng information,” he said.
The PNP-IAS observed that the facility is not an ideal place for detainees.
Leuterio said, “Mabaho siya, mainit, hindi siya ideal. Ang information sa amin ay [it's] to really decongest na facility available sa police station na yon.”
'CONGESTION DUE TO WAR ON DRUGS'
The PNP-IAS said most of the detention facilities in police stations are in similar conditions, especially after the number of detainees tripled following the PNP’s intensified drive against illegal drugs.
“There has been a tremendous increase in the number of people detained sa aming detention facilities, lalo na sa illegal drugs. Yung aming project na Double Barrel Reloaded at galing sa project Double Barrel Alpha, dahil sa efforts sa illegal drugs. Meron pa rin naman nahuhuli na ibang tao na wanted pala, may mga warrant. Panay ang patrol ng pulis at may nahuhuli din na mga ibang cirminal, crime against properties ang kasalanan nila,” Leuterio said.
The PNP-IAS chief noted that congestion is a fact of life in police detention facilities, and that the police bear the burden to make space available to persons detained because someone filed a complaint or case against them.
Leuterio said, “Kung anong available na kuwarto, tinitingnan mo lang na secured siya. Ang purpose naman eh ma-secure ang tao, na hindi siya pwedeng tambangan ng nagko-complain against him. At hindi rin siya umeskapo.”
Leuterio also said that congestion is also caused by the slow arrival of commitment orders decided by the court.
“Kailangan namin na ipa-commit siya dahil nga puno na ang jail namin. Kung wala pa namang commitment order galing sa courts, we cannot just bring them to regular jails. We need the commitment order coming from the courts before namin sila mapa-detain sa regular jails. That’s part of the process ng ating judicial system.
"Sometimes, naghahanap ka talaga ng paraan kung saan mo ma-detain in the absence of sufficient funds for it. Kailangan ma-detain yan para hindi umeskapo, kase kung makaeskapo yan, tama din naman na accountable ang mga pulis doon. Naghahanap ng paraan kung saan mo sila i-detain temporarily para kapag na-file-an ng kaso, nandyan sila,” he said.
The PNP-IAS is now planning a major audit of detention facilities in all police stations.
Leuterio said, “There should be some serious audit na gagawin ng IAS para tingnan lahat ng detention facilities ng ating mga police PNP units nang makakuha kami ng recommendation o ano ang dapat gawin, kung saan dapat dagdagan ng PNP detention facilities."
Meanwhile, PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa was quick to defend his people in an interview yesterday and said, “ Oo, illegal daw yung hindi sa designated area kinulong. Pero intindihin naman daw yung mga pulis na gumawa lang ng paraan para mapaluwag yung detention. Ano raw ba gusto, ma-suffocate mga preso at mamatay?”
The PNP-IAS chief said they will remain objective in their investigation and will try to hear out all parties involved.
“IAS will never be influenced by outside elements. We will remain objective and impartial while trying to hear the sides of the human rights [advocates] o kung sino ang complainant nila. And then trying to get the statements sa pulis na na-andun,” Leuterio said.
Should the investigation prove irregularities, MPD Station 1 personnel face possible dismissal from the service.