HASH(0xa8b2bc)

Jail in Philippine police station linked to drug war abuse

Jail in Philippine police station linked to drug war abuse

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine police relieved the chief of a police station and his staff on Friday after human rights representatives discovered a secret jail cell inside the station where a dozen detainees complained they were being held for extortion.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch said the finding was the latest abuse linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead since last year.

The Commission on Human Rights on Thursday led reporters to the dark, cramped passage that was hidden behind a bookshelf at the Raxabago station in Manila’s impoverished Tondo district.

The men and women held inside told reporters their families had not been told where they were. They said they were tortured by police, who demanded bribes of $800-$4,000 for their freedom, Human Rights Watch said.

The detainees said that inadequate lighting, ventilation, and toilet facilities forced them “to urinate and (do) bowel movements in plastic bags,” according to the commission’s director for the National Capital Region, Gilbert Boisner, who led the discovery.

The station’s commander, Superintendent Robert Domingo, denied allegations of torture and extortion and said the cell was used because the main lockup facility was overcrowded with drug suspects.

Domingo and the station’s drug enforcement unit were relieved Friday by Metro Manila police director Oscar Albayalde. He told ABS-CBN television that their removal will pave the way for an impartial investigation.

The detainees were transferred to the station’s drug unit facility and police said they were still facing drug charges.

Boisner said there was no record of the detainees’ arrests and inquest proceedings.

In a separate case, prosecutors said Thursday they have filed murder charges against two police officers accused of killing a suspected drug dealer and his father inside a police station last July.

The case became prominent after the victim’s common-law wife testified about the killings in the Senate and has since been placed in the witness protection program.

Alan Mangabat, senior assistant prosecutor of Pasay City in metropolitan Manila, said that Pasay police officers Alipio Balo and Michael Tomas were each charged in February with two murders before the Pasay Regional Trial Court in the deaths of 28-year-old suspected drug dealer Jaypee Bertes and his father, Renato Bertes.

The charges have not been previously reported.

He said medical findings and gunshots sustained by the victims “do not jive with the policemen’s version” that they were shot after trying to grab one of the officers’ guns.

In an open letter to Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Amnesty International this week called on authorities to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into all drug-related killings, and to press criminal charges against suspects regardless of rank or status.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said “the so-called extrajudicial killings are not state-sanction or state-sponsored.” He said police conducting legitimate operations are required to follow protocols and those who breach them are made to answer before the law.

Abella said the Senate had conducted an independent investigation into charges hurled against Duterte by a self-confessed assassin, and senators found no proof of state-sponsored killings.

On Monday, a Filipino lawyer presented documents to the International Criminal Court in The Hague which he said contain evidence of involvement by Duterte in extrajudicial killings.

The Associated Press

Just Posted

Outbreak at Okanagan hospital

Gastrointestinal illness reported at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

The Okanagan may not get snow for Christmas

You may not want to bet on having a White Christmas

Secondary school ranks first in national competition

A local high school’s work in post-secondary preparedness has garnered national recognition

Hotel approved despite opposition

Council gives nod to rezoning and height variance for Fairfield Inn & Suites in Salmon Arm.

Dedicated volunteers look for clues

Police appreciate work of those who provide extra eyes for missing women investigations.

Christmas spirit rounded up at Ranch

O’Keefe Ranch celebrates the season with Victorian Christmas

Choir presents a cozy collection of Christmas tunes

Tapestry Women’s Choir and Fireflies Children’s Choir take the Armstrong Bible Chapel stage Dec. 16

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

Vernon Off Road Motorcycle Club looks back at 2017 season

Half Throttle, Great Trails, highlight 2017 season

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Worship night celebrates with Christmas concert

Hear The Music is back with a Christmas concert Dec. 17 at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre

Armstrong purse project puts women first

When money is tight, even the essentials can become luxury items

Vernon Jazz Society swings into Christmas with holiday jams

Sandy Cameron’s Shujazz Sextet will be onstage at the Vernon Jazz Club Saturday, Dec. 16

Most Read