MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to look into the secret jail discovered in Tondo, Manila.
"I will look into this. I will call Bato [PNP Chief Dela Rosa]," Duterte told reporters in Malacanang.
On Thursday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) found 12 men and women detained inside a cramped room hidden behind a bookshelf in the Raxabago police station in Tondo, Manila.
CHR said there was no record of the arrest and inquest proceedings for the detainees, who alleged that cops held them in the facility for a week, without notifying their families or lawyers.
The detainees also accused policemen of torturing them and demanding money for their freedom.
They also claimed that inadequate lighting, ventilation, and toilet facilities forced them "to urinate and [do] bowel movements in plastic bags," according to CHR-Metro Manila director Gilbert Boisner.
Supt. Robert Domingo, commander of the Raxabago station, has denied the allegation, insisting instead that those detained in the hidden cell could not mix with other suspects in the station's main cell because no case has been filed against them yet.
Domingo and 12 other officers of the Raxabago station were temporarily relieved to pave the way for an impartial probe.
At least two senators have spoken out against the maintenance of a "secret jail" for drug suspects.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, noted: "If true, these policemen are no better than the kidnap-for-ransom gangs that I used to chase throughout my law enforcement career."
"Those responsible must therefore be treated no differently from those criminal syndicates that they themselves are mandated to neutralize."