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Baguilat, who is a member of the Liberal Party, is not a member of the majority bloc that the party is a part of. Baguilat staff/released, file
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. is pushing colleagues at the House of Representatives to probe the existence of a hidden cell in a Manila police station, where drug suspects were allegedly held for money.
While commending the Commission on Human Rights for doing its duty to the people, which is to protect them from the abuse of state power, the Ifugao lawmaker said “this is a clear instance of abuse of power by the very same people who are supposed to protect us.”
CHR lawyers went to a police station in Tondo recently and found about a dozen men and women locked in a cell hidden behind a shelf. The detainees claimed they were being held against their will until they paid P40,000 to P200,000 demanded by the police.
The station chief has since been relieved of his duty but Rep. Baguilat said, more should be done considering the blatant disregard for the rights of the detainees, who are presumed innocent and entitled to due process and the police demanding payment has made the situation even worse.”
Police officers relieved from their posts are put on "floating" status pending results of administrative investigations but remain part of the Philippine National Police.
Baguilat Jr. condemned, “what happened (here) is a disgrace to the uniform and a violation of the policemen’s oath to serve and protect the people.”
He said he hopes the House of Representatives, headed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, would immediately take up the issue and not just sweep it under the rug.
“This is an issue of vital concern. It was a good thing that the CHR got wind of the existence of such a secret cell. But we have to find out if there are more out there, whether taxpayer’s money is being used to build and hide them, why our police administrators don’t know about them, or if they do know about them, why they are tolerating this abuse of people’s rights,” the lawmaker said.
Baguilat, who is a member of the Liberal Party, is not a member of the majority bloc that the party is a part of.
Speaker Alvarez urged PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa in January to resign after news of the murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in Camp Crame hit the headlines. At the time, Alavarez said Dela Rosa seemed more interested in public appearances than on running the PNP well.
Alvarez backed down and attended Dela Rosa's birthday party that same weekend.