Press Release
April 29, 2017

Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on the Manila Police's secret detention cell

The discovery of a secret detention cell for drug suspects in a Manila Police Station in Tondo confirms a dark and open secret: the government's war on drugs is not based on transparency, civil rights, and rehabilitation. It is abusive and exploitative. It is a war against human dignity and the poor.

The Manila Police Station's secret detention facility is unconstitutional. It is a throwback to Marcosian times. It is also eerily similar to the secret detention cells of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The existence of the secret detention cell violates existing standards and regulations on jail management under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It is an ideal atmosphere for rape and other forms of sexual abuse as both men and women are detained in the same facility. It also creates the perfect climate for illegal arrests and incarceration, enforced disappearances and torture.

I laud the swift action of Police Director Oscar Albayalde, Regional Director, Philippine National Police-NCRPO in investigating the matter and relieving Supt. Domingo, Station Commander 1 and the Station Drug Enforcement Unit. I also welcome his honesty in recognizing that this problem exists not only in one police station but in almost all their stations regionwide. This revelation merits a massive investigation from the national government and to see to it that other such facilities are dismantled.

However, I am aghast over reports that the MPD surreptitiously closed down the secret detention cell. They also acted in haste in filing formal charges against all who were unjustly incarcerated in that facility. I hope this is not an effort to whitewash the crime and erase evidence of their wrongdoing. I call on the PNP leadership to immediately and fully explain this matter and hold accountable all those responsible.

The existence of the secret jail and admission that it is not an isolated case is yet another indication of how the government's flawed war on drugs has inspired its implementors to abuse their power. This is yet another important reason why we need to shift to a more humane, rules-based and public health approach to the drug problem.

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