MANILA - Lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives are seeking an inquiry into the "secret jail" discovered by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in one of Manila's police stations.
In Resolution no. 348, Senator Bam Aquino said policemen involved in putting detainees in a cell hidden behind a book shelf should be punished.
"As the government's enforcement arm in its war against illegal drugs, the PNP should safeguard the public’s trust by ensuring that abusive policemen are investigated and punished accordingly," he said.
He said the probe aims to ensure the protection of rights of the people under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Detainees kept in the secret jail were invited to the hearing, which will be led by the Senate committee on public order.
Kabayan Party-list Representative Harry Roque also filed a similar resolution at the House of Representatives.
In filing Resolution 948, Roque stressed the rights of the detainees against torture, force, violence, threat and intimidation under the Constitution.
At least 11 detainees were kept inside the secret jail at the Manila Police District Station 1, the CHR discovered during a surprise inspection.
Initial probe by the CHR showed that detainees have been kept for a week and have not undergone inquest.
No less than the chief of the PNP, Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, defended the secret jail, calling it illegal but "necessary."
"Gumagawa na lang ng diskarte para ma-maximize yung space, masikip na masyado doon, hinanapan ng lugar, sus, sila pa may kasalanan," Dela Rosa said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the committee on public order, called the PNP chief's remarks arrogant.
"Defending an unlivable prison cell hidden behind a book shelf inside a police station is incomprehensible. It is also very arrogant," said the senator who is also a former PNP chief.--with reports from Sherrie Ann Torres and Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News