April 27, 2017 photo, detainees crouch on the floor inside a secret jail
after being discovered by the Commission on Human Rights at Police
Station 1 at Tondo district in Manila, Philippines. Photo: (AP) -
Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat is set to file a resolution urging
the House of Representatives to immediately conduct an investigation
into the alleged secret police cell in a Manila station where drug
suspects are allegedly held until they cough up money.
Acting on a tip,
lawyers of the Commission on Human Rights went to a police station in
Tondo and were shocked to see about a dozen men and women locked in a
cell hidden behind a shelf.
The detainees claimed
they were being held against their will until they paid P40,000 to
P200,000 demanded by the police.
The station chief has
since been relieved of his duty but Baguilat said more should be done
considering the blatant disregard for the rights of the detainees, who
are presumed innocent and entitled to due process. That the police
demanded payment has made the situation even worse.
"I commend the
Commission on Human Rights for doing its duty to the people, which is to
protect them from abuse of State power.
This is a clear instance of
abuse of power by the very same people who are supposed to protect us,"
said Baguilat, "What happened here is a disgrace to the uniform and a
violation of the policemen's oath to serve and protect the people."
expressed hope that the House of Representatives, headed by Speaker
Pantaleon Alvarez, would immediately take up the issue and not just
sweep it under the rug, like what the Speaker did with Baguilat's call
for an investigation into extrajudicial killings.
"This is an issue of
vital concern. It was a good thing that the CHR got wind of the
existence of such a secret cell. But we have to find out if there are
more out there, whether taxpayer's money is being used to build and hide
them, why our police administrators don't know about them, or if they do
know about them, why they are tolerating this abuse of people's rights,"