TONDO POLICE. Former MPD Station 1 Commander Superintendent Robert Domingo talks to the media before the CHR discovers the hidden jail cell behind the bookshelf. Photo by Eloisa Lopez
MANILA, Philippines – Blame the two-day ASEAN Summit holiday in the city of Manila for the police’s failure to immediately file charges against drug suspects found detained inside a jail hidden by a bookshelf inside the Manila Police District Station 1 in Tondo, Manila.
“Ang sabi nila [PS1 police] they’ve been here [since] April 27. They have 36 hours to file the case, so holiday, so pwede mag-ano eh, pwedeng dagdagan kasi may holiday. Alam naman ng imbestigador yung ginagawa nila, para hindi mag-lapse yung sinsabing reglementary period para mag-file ng kaso,” said National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde, minutes after they inspected the station.
(The police here said the detainees have been here since April 27. They have 36 hours to file the case, so holiday, so they can extend that because it’s a holiday. The investigators know what they’re doing so the reglementary period in filing a case doens’t lapse.)
On Thursday evening, April 27, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) conducted a surprise visit to the Station 1 of the Manila police, and were surprised to see some 12 men and women locked-up inside a tiny, narrow, and unventilated alleyway inside the station.
Station commander Superintendent Robert Domingo said the drug suspects were arrested by police during a “one time, big time” operation ahead of the ASEAN Summit in Metro Manila. When the CHR attempted to take custody of the suspects found inside the jail, Domingo refused and said they were still being processed.
Domingo was also unable to show CHR and the media police blotters that would indicate when and where the suspects were arrested.
Some of the detainees denied they had just been arrested, claiming they had been there for over a week now. Another, whose interview was broadcast live on Facebook, said he had been detained there since Tuesday, April 25.
Under the Revised Penal Code, an arrested person must be brought to the “proper judicial authorities” within 12 hours for crimes with light penalties, 18 hour for crimes punishable by correctional facilities, and 36 hours for crimes punishable by capital penalties. Drug offenses are punishable by capital penalties.
April 27 and 28 are non-working holidays in the city of Manila because it is host to the ASEAN 2017 Summit. Several hotels and a convention center in the Philippine capital have been chosen as venues for the events and meetings during and around the summit.
Albayalde conceded that the hidden cell was below the PNP’s standards. He said the NCRPO did not know of Domingo’s “initiative” given the lack of facilities inside the station. (READ: Secret jail in Tondo? ‘We really don’t know’)
Domingo, who has since been relieved from his post, told Albayalde that the cell was a “temporary” holding center because the precincts are already crowded.
Police in Tondo have also been accused of extorting money from the families of the detainees in exchange for their freedom. Domingo has denied these allegations. – Rappler.com