Senate inquiry into MPD’s ‘hidden cell’ sought

MANILA-- A resolution was filed Tuesday seeking to look into the reported hidden cell which was discovered at the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 in Tondo after members of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) made a surprise inspection.

Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV filed Senate Resolution No. 348 seeking to investigate the operation of the cell and at the same time urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to clean up its ranks.

Aquino, in filing the resolution, said the probe is aimed at ensuring that the rights of those under custodial investigation or detention by the PNP are protected.

He also stressed that cleaning the police ranks must go hand-in-hand with the administration's war against drugs to earn public trust.

"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," Aquino said in his resolution.

According to the CHR, the hidden cell was occupied by at least 12 persons who were detained for at least 10 days even without the filing of proper charges and without arrests being recorded.

Families of the detainees also claimed that elements of the Drug Enforcement Unit asked for money in exchange for their freedom.

Neophyte Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, for his part, urged PNP Director General Chief Ronald dela Rosa to immediately launch an intensive probe into allegations against police officers involved.

Gatchalian, in a statement, also warned that the current administration's campaign against illegal drugs would nosedive if the PNP fails to address reports of police abuses.

"The endless string of public scandals concerning the questionable methods employed by police officers in waging the fight against illegal drugs is starting to take its toll on the credibility of the PNP, Gatchalian said.

Public trust in the institution is fast declining, and the people are losing their faith in police officers," he added.

He also emphasized the importance of the public perception of PNP in the success or failure of the administration's anti-illegal drug campaign.

"The integrity of the PNP and its members must remain unsullied at all times. If the people lose trust in the police, we will lose the war on drugs," he added.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, former PNP chief, also said that it was obvious that the hidden cell was a human rights violation.

You can see there's a violation, that's plain view. It is clear in the law that secret prison cells are prohibited. So there should have been action taken against the police officers concerned, Lacson said in an interview.

In a separate interview, Sen. Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III said that he had no objection on the call for a probe into the issue.

Source: Philippines News Agency