Roque calls for inquiry into MPD Station 1’s ‘hidden cell’

MANILA-- Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque on Friday called for a congressional investigation into the illegal detention of about a dozen drug suspects in a secret jail cell behind a bookshelf at the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 in Tondo, Manila.

Roque urged the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the alleged violations against the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 committed by policemen assigned at MPD Station 1.

Roque explained that secret detention places are prohibited by the Constitution and the Anti-Torture Law considering such clandestine confinement could cause mental or psychological torture.

"I find it profoundly disturbing that these men and women were 1) illegally detained -- because there appears to be no records of their arrest and 2) subjected to cruel, degrading, and inhumane conditions," Roque said.

Roque cited a constitutional provision which states that "no torture, force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other means which vitiate the free will of a person under investigation for the commission of a crime shall be used against him."

He added that secret detention places, solitary, incommunicado, or other similar forms of detention are also prohibited.

The neophyte lawmaker said he will file a resolution once Congress resumes on Tuesday.

Roque also called on the leadership of the Philippine National Police to punish the scalawag cops who have taken advantage of the administration's aggressive campaign against illegal drugs as cover-up for their own illicit activities.

"The PNP should step back in the manner the war on drugs is being carried out because it appears to embolden scalawags. The PNP leadership should prosecute these miscreants to show resolve to follow the Rule of Law," Roque said.

MPD station commander Superintendent Roberto Domingo has been relieved from his post and will be subjected to investigation for illegally detaining about 12 men and women in a hidden makeshift cell.

A surprise inspection by members of the Commission on Human Rights led to the discovery of a hidden cell where a dozen drug suspects were detained.

The CHR was reportedly tipped by an informant about a secret cell hidden behind a bookshelf and that police extorted money from them.

The report also said Domingo denied this and said that the area is only a holding room for persons yet to undergo inquest proceedings because their regular cells were full.

Roque assured victims that the Center for International Law (CenterLaw), of which he is the founding chairman, will provide them with legal help.

"The Center for International Law will help the victims file cases against the police personnel in Station 1. I am glad that the station commander has been relieved of duty as he should be held liable for command responsibility," he said.

"We will prosecute those responsible to assist the President in cleansing the ranks of the PNP," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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