MANILA - Investigators from the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (IAS) maintained Tuesday that the hidden jail facility found in a police station in Tondo, Manila last April was not a secret after all and that detainees were not tortured.
In a hearing led by the House subcommittee on correctional reform, IAS' Senior Supt. Rommel Sta. Ana said at least 9 barangay officials issued certifications that the jail cell in the Raxabago police station "is known in the area and is being used as a temporary holding/staging area for arrested suspects."
Relatives of the detainees also executed 5 sworn statements affirming that they freely visited the holding area, Sta. Ana said.
Sta. Ana claimed medical tests conducted by the Ospital ng Maynila and Scene of the Crime Operatives found that the detainees did not suffer torture.
"The lock-up cell is not a secret detention facility. The persons brought in there for investigation after being arrested for commissions of crime are not held incommunicado," said Manila Police District director, Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel.
"They are allowed to be visited by their relatives. In fact, some of their relatives brought food and clothing to them."
The media, Coronel added, knew of the cramped and hidden cell even before the Commission on Human Rights, following a tip, found a dozen individuals there last April.
The detainees have claimed that they had been held in the facility for a week after being arrested on drug allegations.
They also accused policemen of demanding P40,000 to P200,000 for their release and the dropping of charges against them.
Suspended Raxabago police station commander Supt. Robert Domingo has denied the allegations, saying that he only ordered the use of the hidden cell to ease overcrowding at the main cell.
The main cell, he explained, was holding double its 40-person capacity after an increase in the arrest of drug suspects due to the government's crackdown on narcotics.