CHR apologizes for “short-comings” in Manila secret detention cell issue

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MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights apologized for their short-comings on the controversial Manila secret detention cell incident.

The said event happened in April 2017. At that time, the CHR failed to rescue alleged drug suspects. The police arrested and detained the said suspects illegally.

CHR issued the statement on Monday after netizens widely criticized the agency over the weekend. The online screening of the documentary “Aswang” sparked the public outburst.

The award-winning work showed the struggle of 12 detainees the police jailed behind a book shelf.

The policemen from Manila Police District-Raxabago Police Station 1 detained the said people. For several days they stayed in tiny cell without windows.

Based from the narrative, the police beat and tortured some of the detainees.

Ezra Acayan aired his views through a Facebook post.

He said that the night of the coverage, they were shocked with what they saw.

“People emerged from inside with their hands raised. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing, it was a hidden jail cell,” Acayan said.

“Cramped inside were twelve people, all illegally detained without any case filed against them. The tiny room had no windows, no light, and no ventilation,” he added.

Manila secret detention cell suspects

Acayan further pressed on the CHR as he described the “worst” part.

“… me and my colleagues were disappointed to hear the other CHR people murmur to themselves, that they couldn’t spend any time longer there as they had a dinner event to catch. For most of them, the supposed rescue mission was [unpaid] overtime,” he said.

RELATED STORY: The story behind Tondo jail’s ‘secret cell’ as told by photojournalist Ezra Acayan, ‘Aswang’ movie

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said that they willing to hear out public criticisms. She explained that they will use this to improve the services of the commission.

Kami ay humihingi ng paumanhin sa naging pagkukulang ng CHR at kabiguang masagip ang mga biktima sa araw na matuklasan ang secret jail,” De Guia said.

[Translation: We are asking for an apology for the short-comings of the CHR and the disappointment that the victims faced when we discovered the secret jail.]

The commission stated that they are coordinating with the Office of the Ombudsman to put to accountability the said policemen.

They also stated that they are helping the lower house committee on human rights in their inquiry. In active participation, they are helping the House identify people who will take part in witness protection.

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