The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Saturday slammed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa over his supposed justification of the hidden lock-up cell in a police station in Tondo, Manila.
"Bato shouldn't so quickly brush this aside! That he would choose, by his statements, to even justify the operation of this hidden jail as a necessary measure to address the problem of jail congestion also reflects his personal ignorance of both the constitutional and legal provisions that expressly prohibits the maintenance of secret detention facilities by public authorities," said CHR chairperson Chito Gascon in a statement.
"It is prudent that in matters that may involve malfeasance or misconduct by public officials - particularly when this affect fundamental human rights, as in this case - that their superiors refrain from making statements that appear to be condoning the same," Gascon said.
"Otherwise, to do so further encourages the climate of impunity that perpetuates wrongful action because the wrong-doers are not held accountable or punished," Gascon added.
The came after the police chief sided with the cops who were supposedly behind the "secret" cell.
"As long as hindi sinasaktan 'yung preso... 'yung detainee at hindi kinokotongan, okay lang sa 'kin 'yun," Dela Rosa said in a report on Saksi on Friday.
Dela Rosa also condemned the CHR for conducting the inspection of the police station amid the 30th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, which was hosted by the Philippines.
"Hinahamon ko 'yang mga human rights na 'yan. O, gusto niyo mag-inspection? Mag-inspection kayo araw-araw, huwag lang kayong mag-inspection, magpakitang-tao kayo mag-inspection kayo ngayon na mayroong ASEAN Summit," he said.
In response, Gascon said, "As to his allusions as to timing, it's best he do his job as we will too."
An inspection by the CHR on Thursday led to the discovery of a hidden lock-up cell in a police station in Tondo, Manila where 11 individuals, including women, were detained.
Meanwhile, the CHR challenged Dela Rosa to conduct an inspection on all the detention cells controlled by the police force.
"I challenge him to undertake a full audit of all places of detention under the control of the PNP to ensure no other cases akin or similar to what was uncovered in MPD (Manila Police District) Station 1 exists as I am concerned that this may not be an isolated incident," Gascon said.
Gascon also expressed hope that they could meet with Dela Rosa to discuss certain issues.
"We welcome his call to the CHR to conduct other jail visits and are prepared to work with the PNP in undertaking this full review and audit of all places of detention," he said.
"We hope we might be able to meet with him on this and other matters of common concern at the soonest possible time as he has thus far ignored our request from months back to meet in order how we might all explore ways and means to guarantee that all human rights to all persons are guaranteed at all times such as when law enforces conduct their operations," Gascon added. —ALG, GMA News