MANILA - The chief of the Makati police denounced Thursday his officers' move to conduct a strip search on alleged drug suspects, including a naked woman.
Video clips given to ABS-CBN News by a former anti-narcotics operative show the chief of the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) and 3 other officers who appeared to be laughing during the procedure that reportedly took place at the Makati police headquarters sometime in March 2017.
"Ako'y talagang nagalit dahil hindi po talaga tama iyung nakita doon sa video. Talagang maling-mali po," Makati police chief Senior Supt. Rogelio Simon told radio DZMM.
(I was enraged because what I saw in the video was not right, it was very wrong.)
Simon said the 4 policemen involved in the incident have told him that the woman was not a drug suspect and that they paid her to take part in a demonstration on frisking.
"Binayaran nila iyung babae dahil ito'y kakilala nila, parang kaibigan nila, parang asset, ganoon din... Parang nagkaroon ng demo kung paano mo hahanapin sa isang suspek iyung itinatagong droga sa katawan," he said.
(They supposedly paid the woman because she was their acquaintance, their friend, an asset of sorts. There was supposedly a demo on how to find drugs that a suspect is hiding in his body.)
"Mayroon po kasing ganoon, na kahit maliliit na bagay puwede mong itago na hindi mo makikita kahit iyung suspek ay nakahubad, iniipit sa kili-kili o kaya sa mga organ."
(There are cases when small objects have been concealed even when a suspect is naked, the object is hidden in their armpits or other organs.)
Strip searches, wherein a person is asked to remove clothes and bend over, must be performed inside a private room and by a person of the same sex.
Simon said the policemen claimed that the controversial procedure happened sometime between December 2016 and January 2017. They have been relieved from their posts and will be placed under restrictive custody at the Metro Manila police headquarters.
The woman in the video, meanwhile, has been located and asked to execute a statement on the alleged strip search.
Policemen leading President Rodrigo's war on drugs have been involved in several controversies, including the alleged planting of evidence, the summary execution of suspects like 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, and the abduction and murder of a Korean businessman.
Officers involved in the incidents have faced charges while police leadership vowed to clean its ranks and maintained that drug suspects were killed in operations out of self-defense.
The anti-narcotics drive has seen some 4,200 people killed by police since July 2016, with another 2,500 suspected drug suspects killed by unknown assailants in the same period.