The Daily Manila Shimbun


MPD chief tells House he knew of “secret jail” last March

May 23, 2017

The head of the Manila Police District said the “secret jail” at the Raxabago Police Station said he only knew about this facility last March, or seven months after he assumed the position. Chief Superintendent Joel Coronel, who became MPD chief on July 1, told a House hearing on Tuesday  the cell is not a secret facility, but an storage room converted to address the congestion in the Raxabago Police Station. Senior Superintendent Romeo Sta. Ana Jr. of National Capitol Region Police Office  Regional Internal Affairs Service who lead the probe,  said the facility is used as a "temporary holding area” for suspects. He added based on their investigation, the detainees “are negative of torture.” But Compostela Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga asked why Sta  Ana failed to include in his report allegations drug suspects are kept in that facility until they pay an amount raging from P40,000 to P200,000  for their freedom. Sta. Ana said they did not investigate the allegations as they are focused on the issue of “secret detention facility” and ‘torture' allegations. Sta Ana, after being quizzed by Gonzaga, admitted the condition in the detention cell is “below par” the  human living conditions "because of congestion.” On April 27,  a team from the Commission of Human Rights found about 12 men and women allegedly detained in a secret detention cell hidden behind a bookshelf in Police Station 1 in Tondo. According to the commission, only a male urinal is available so  detainees were forced to defecate into plastics bags. It added the detainees also slept sitting down. Sta. Ana said they did not include the human conditions in the cell in their investigative report. Misamis Occidental Rep. Henry Oaminal, chairman of the House subcommittee on Correctional Reforms, called NCRPO Director Oscar  Albayalde’s attention about the “untouched” P100-million capital outlay of the Philippine National Police to improve the jail facilities. Albayalde said improving detention facilities “entails funding” and that the PNP  is aware of such need. “All the budget asked by the PNP through your very popular PNP chief was granted by the House of Representatives. I cannot recall of any request from the PNP of any funding to improve the deplorable situation in the detention centres. The P100-million untouched capital outlay can be used to decongest the cell,” Oaminal said. DMS