CHR claims cops negotiating with 'secret jail' detainees

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2017 05:41 PM

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 - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) alleged Tuesday that several policemen are attempting to negotiate with the victims of a secret jail cell discovered inside a police facility in Manila last April. 

"Ang nababalitaan namin meron mga pulis na pumupunta pa sa kanila at sinasabing huwag na silang magsampa ng kaso, hindi na daw nila papansin yung kaso hindi nila aasikasuhin para makawala daw yung mga tao na naging biktima ng secret detention cell na ito" CHR Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit told ABS-CBN News. 

(We received information that there some policemen approached the victims, urging them not to file cases. The officers allegedly said they would, in turn, also disregard the raps against the victims.)

When asked to comment on CHR's claims, National Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Oscar Albayalde said there was no reason to negotiate. 

"There's really nothing to negotiate since CHR have already filed a case against the policemen at the Office of the Ombudsman. And I'm not privy to the info that some persons are negotiating," he said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

The CHR found a dozen individuals detained in a cramped and hidden cell inside the Raxabago police station in Manila's busy Tondo district on April 27. 

The detainees said they had been held there for about a week after being arrested on drug allegations. They also claimed policemen had demanded P40,000 to P200,000 for their release and the dropping of charges against them. 

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa initially defended the secret jail and accused the CHR of plotting to embarrass the government. 

Dela Rosa however eventually apologized to the CHR for becoming "emotional" over issue. 

CHR's Dumpit thanked Dela Rosa for his gesture and urged him to protect the victims of the hidden jail. 

"Salamat doon sa paumanhin pero kailangan din po sana ay parisan din po yun ng kaukulang aksyon tungkol sa naganap na pangyayari, marami tayo kailangang gawin" she said.

"Nakikiusap kami sana magkaroon ng taimtim na pagimbestiga at siguro magnilay na rin ang ating kapulisan para mahinto yung ganitong practice."
(We thank him for his apology but we need to couple this with action. We need to do a lot of things. We request a thorough investigation and reflection on the part of our cops so that this practice will stop.)

Dumpit also welcomed Dela Rosa's reported plan to meet with CHR, but she said that he has yet to reach out to them.