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Bato explains existence of ‘secret jail’

Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that the so-called “secret jail” inside a police station in Manila has introduced the public to the realities of the penal system in the country.

While dela Rosa admitted that the discovered secret jail is against the international standards, the truth is that the problem of congested jails — from the time of temporary detention at the police station up to the permanent detention facilities after conviction — has been the perennial problem in the country’s criminal justice system.

“Legally, it’s wrong because that is not supposed to be the detention facility that they should be placed. That’s against the law,” said dela Rosa in response to discovery of the secret jail discovered by the Commission on Human Rights behind the bookshelf inside a Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 where at least 12 detainees were incarcerated.

“But you also have to ask why they (MPD policemen) did that. They are just maximizing the space,” he added.

Dela Rosa explained that based on his visit at the police station, the detention facility was already overcrowded to the point that the detainees could no longer sleep well.

In fact, he said 10 of the detainees discovered inside the secret jail are even thankful that they were not placed inside the regular detention facility due to some negative effects that could be brought by hot weather and the number of prisoners staying inside.

“I pity my men there. They were the ones who found ways to maximize the space, to solve congestion yet, they are the ones at fault now. Legally they are liable because that is not authorized but what now? They would force them to stay inside that overcrowded detention cell and die of suffocation?” he stressed.

Dela Rosa has been the subject of intense criticisms for publicly defending the MPD policemen allegedly behind the secret jail.

Dela Rosa explained that his defense of his men stemmed from his own interview of the prisoners who were detained in the alleged secret jail.

He said he clarified to the detainees the allegation of extortion and they all told them that it is not true and they only said that during their “supposed rescue” in an attempt to be freed by the CHR.

“I asked them why they said something to the CHR and one of them said that he lied because he thought that he will be freed after the inspection. How can they go out when they are facing charges?” said dela Rosa.

The detainees inside the alleged secret jail were already charged and dela Rosa said the charges were accepted by the Manila prosecutors. (Aaron B. Recuenco)