Bato's defense of secret jail unbecoming of PNP chief - Drilon

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 01 2017 09:47 AM | Updated as of May 01 2017 11:43 AM

Bato's defense of secret jail unbecoming of PNP chief - Drilon 1
Detainees wait inside a hidden jail cell, masked by a wooden shelf, at the Manila Police District Station 1. Around 12 detainees alleged on April 27, 2017 that they were being held at the 1 x 3 meter detention waiting for ransom so they can be freed. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday hit Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, for defending policemen in Manila who allegedly kept a hidden detention facility for drug suspects.

"Narinig ko po ang mga salita ng ating PNP chief, si Bato. Nakakalungkot po, parang kanto po iyung mga salita, parang kanto boy, parang hindi chief PNP," Drilon said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.

(I heard the words of our PNP chief, Bato. It was disappointing. His statement was peppered with gutter language; he was like a thug, not a chief of police.)

Last week, the Commission on Human Rights followed a tip and found a dozen individuals detained in a cramped and hidden cell inside the Raxabago police station in Manila's busy Tondo district.

The detainees said they had been held there for about a week after being arrested on drug allegations and that police had demanded up to P17,000 for their release.

Dela Rosa on Saturday defended his men's actions, saying "as long as the prisoners were not tortured or extorted, it’s okay with me."

He also accused the CHR of plotting to embarrass the government as the secret jail was discovered while President Rodrigo Duterte hosted fellow leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at their annual summit.

But Drilon, a former justice secretary, said the Constitution clearly prohibits any form of secret detention.

Dela Rosa's defense of the clandestine cell, he said, would erode public trust in the police and speculations that top leaders have sanctioned impunity in the President's anti-narcotics drive.

"Ang dami na pong nangyayari, walang napaparusahang miyembro ng ating pulis. Nawawalan po ng tiwala ang ating taumbayan sa kapulisan dahil po sa mga ganitong klaseng gawain -- lumabag sa batas, e walang parusa," he said.

"Itong mga ganitong insidente ay dapat na matigil na. I call on General Bato to police the police."

(So much has happened and not one policeman has been punished. The public is losing trust in the police because of incidents like these wherein the law is violated but no punishment is dealt. Incidents like these should stop. I call on General Bato to police the police.)

Duterte won last year’s presidential election on a pledge to kill tens of thousands of criminals.

Police have since reported killing 2,724 people as part of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, although authorities insist the shootings have been in self-defense.

Many thousands of others have been killed by shadowy vigilantes, according to rights groups.

International rights monitor Human Rights Watch on Saturday called on the Philippines to free all “unlawfully detained” suspects and abolish unofficial police lock-up cells.

“Secret jails may just be one more form of police criminality that has multiplied during the drug war,” the group’s deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said in a statement.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has filed a resolution seeking a legislative probe into hidden jails.

The Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, chaired by Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, a former PNP chief, may lead the investigation, Drilon said. -- With Agence France-Presse