Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said the existence of a secret jail cell in a Tondo police station is "too plain view" to ignore after the nation's top cop questioned why the Commission on Human Rights was investigating the jail during the ASEAN summit.
In a text message, Lacson said the Manila Police District station secret jail is "too 'plain view' to ignore."
"Defending its existence is a virtual defense of the indefensible," he said.
He also criticized Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa for defending police officers in the Tondo police station even before the PNP Internal Affairs Service could initiate an investigation.
"Defending an unlivable prison cell hidden behind a book shelf inside a police station is incomprehensible. It is also very arrogant," he said in a separate tweet.
Last Thursday, the CHR found 12 men and women detained inside a cramped room hidden behind a wooden cabinet in the Raxabago police station in Tondo.
The 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.
One detainee said she was asked to pay P50,000 after being accused of having links to the drug trade.
For his part, PNP chief Dela Rosa questioned the timing of the CHR's inspection, which coincided with the ongoing ASEAN summit.
"As long as the prisoners were not tortured or extorted, it's okay with me," he told reporters.
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. With Agence France Presse