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MPD Station 1 chief relieved over secret detention cell

Twelve men and women were found cramped inside a secret detention center measuring one meter by five meters Thursday night by a team of inspectors from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The discovery led to the relief of Supt. Robert Domingo, station commander of the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 and the 12-man anti-drugs unit headed by Senior Inspector Edwin Fuggan.

Yesterday, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde and MPD chief Senior Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel inspected the windowless cell which was tucked behind a book shelf.

On the far end of the cell was a lone urinal.

Gilbert Boiser of the CHR said they acted on information that a group of individuals had been detained for a week now in a secret lock-up cell and that police were extorting money for their release.

Domingo denied the allegations, saying the detainees were only arrested during an anti-illegal drugs operation Thursday morning and were placed in what he termed as a holding cell while awaiting inquest.

Boiser rejected Domingo’s claim.

“When you arrest somebody, ilo-log mo yan. I-blotter mo yan, eh wala. Ang allegation ng mga tao dun, one week na sila,” Boiser said.

Supt. Alberto Barot has been tapped as officer-in-charge of Raxabago-Tondo Police Station (PS 1).

Albayalde said establishing a “secret detention” in the police station is not allowed.

“Hindi natin tino-tolerate ‘yan kung talagang ginagamit nila ‘yan para itago ang mga preso. It will come out in the investigation. And of course that will never be tolerated by the PNP,” said Albayalde.

Albayalde, however, stressed that the CHR should see the “bigger perspective” on the situation of the different detention cells.

“I think kailangan natin makita ito in a bigger perspective, kung ano talaga ang sitwasyon ng ating mga detention cells not only ang kamalian ng ating kapulisan,” said Albayalde.

The NCRPO chief also said that the CHR should also make recommendations to the Local Government Units to improve the detention cells and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

“Kailangan inspeksyunin nila yan. Hindi natin bine-blaim ang CHR. This is a welcome development as they are taking effort.

Nagpapasalamat tayo sa kanila na tinintingnan nila. Ngunit ang pinapakiusap lang naman din natin sa kanila ay tingnan nila kung ano ang sitwasyon at kung ano ang meron lamang ang kapulisan,” said Albayalde.

“I directed Senior Supt. Romeo Sta. Ana Jr. of the Regional Internal Affairs Service to conduct investigation. “We will wait for his recommendation. Rest assured that we have in mind the best interest of the community and we will not tolerate any illegal act committed by our policemen,” he added.

Meanwhile, Coronel said the MPD Internal Affairs and its criminal investigation detection are coordinating with the CHR regarding the controversial detention cell.

Malacañang has lauded the swift dismissal of the concerned MPD officers.

“We commend Police Director Oscar Albayalde, Regional Director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for acting decisively, and ordering the administrative relief of the Manila Police DistrictStation Commander 1 and directing the Regional Internal Affairs Service to conduct an investigation,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

The Palace declined to comment on the incident until the police investigation is complete.

“The report of the investigation will be forthcoming, and only then do we release further comment on the matter,” Abella said. (with a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)