‘Secret’ jail cell behind a shelf in a police station reveals 12 detainees

ommission on Human Rights Director Gilbert Boiser opens a secret door, masked by a cabinet, that leads to a hidden detention area at the Manila Police District Station 1. PHOTO: Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

We can’t make this up.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and members of the media on Thursday night discovered a cramped “secret jail cell” in Police Station 1 in Tondo, Manila, where about a dozen men and women were allegedly illegally detained by police authorities.

Gilbert Boisner, regional director of the CHR for Metro Manila, made the unannounced visit to the police station after receiving tips that police officers allegedly asked for money ranging from PHP40,000-PHP200,000 in exchange for the release of the detained persons.

“They have been picked and they have to pay up to be freed. That’s the allegation,” said Boisner in a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Superintendent Robert Domingo initially denied the existence of the hidden jail cell, but Boisner who was following a tip from an informant continued to inspect the bookshelf. He knocked on the wall and heard someone reply.

The cell, measuring about a meter wide and five meters long, had no proper lighting and ventilation. The two urinals inside weren’t working properly.

A woman inside claimed that she and her husband have been inside the cell for a week.

Rappler asked for the blotter of the detainees, but Domingo said that the papers “were still being ‘processed'”.He added that the detainees were just arrested in a “one time, big time” operation on April 26.

Domingo insisted that police authorities did not extort money from the detainees.

“The allegations of these arrested…it’s their word against ours. So we will fight that in the end,” Domingo said, adding that his team has “the presumption of regularity in the performance of duty.”

An inquest proceeding is now ongoing.

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