The discovery of a secret jail cell for alleged drug-related suspects in Tondo Manila reminds one of the notorious secret stockades and jails during the Marcos martial law regime.
A report by the Philippine Inquirer probably shocked many Filipinos, but to some of us who survived the Marcos dictatorship era, that secret cell housing 12 crime suspects at Raxabago station's drug enforcement unit in Tondo Manila, is not entirely novel idea. During Martial law, thousands were incarcerated in secret stockades and jails by the Philippine Constabulary who was back then, served as the police forces of Mr. Marcos. During those darkest hours, rich people arrested for drug offenses enjoy the air-conditioned offices of police officers while many poor folks were herded like pigs to dirty little rooms where these people were kept. Inside these so-called jails, people report being subjected to tortures, rapes and other despicable horrors.
It is therefore, revolting to know that such practices of jailing suspects still exists, after 30 years of so-called "democracy" under this neo-liberal environment. Lawyers of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) even discovered that cops are involved in extortion activities. Those jailed were reportedly, drug pushers who are being milked by the cops and being held under duress or under threat of filing charges against them.
The station commander denied keeping these suspects as "milking cows" but why keep these people separate from the prisoner population? What made them so special? PNP Chief General Bato dela Rosa should investigate this before this boils over.
While economically challenged drug dependents and suspects are sweating it out inside secret cells fit for animals, the police colonel caught in a drug session with a long-time drug pusher inside a shanty in Taguig is now working for his reinstatement as head of the PNP crime laboratory in Alabang.
Arrested PNP Superintendent Lito Cabamongan appeared before PNP Crime Lab chief Director Aurelio Trampe Jr asking for his job back. In an interview, Trampe made this statement:
“He’s requesting to go back sa Crime Lab. Sabi ko, ayusin muna ang kanyang criminal and administrative cases bago namin siya tulungan. Marami siyang anak na kailangan pa ng suporta at supported siya ng pamilya niya,” Trampe said.
What does this mean? When a cop is caught using shabu and even is being accused of selling them, he is free to get his job back? And his superior, Director Trampe, is willing to help him? I thought this administration is tough on drug offenders regardless of rank, race or affinity to the "Powers"?
Unlike those jailed in that secret cell in Tondo, Cabamongan was found positive of illegal drug use by the very same man, Trampe, who now is open to helping Cabamongan for as long as this cop "fixes" (ayusin) his criminal and administrative cases? Seriously sirs?
Even Trampe says the findings about Cabamongan shows that his underling suffers from psychosis or behavioural disorder due to drug use, which are grounds for termination, according to the PNP rule book. Hence, it would have been impossible if not improbable for Cabamongan to regain his past stature as an officer of the nation's police force.
I promised myself that I will refrain from commenting negatively on this war against drugs but these things are revolting to say the least. I am beginning to agree with what Amnesty International (AI) wrote about this drug war being waged against the poor right now by the Duterte administration:
"The Philippine government needs to urgently adopt a different approach to drugs and criminality, one which promotes, respects and fulfils the human rights of all concerned. Police and judicial authorities should ensure accountability for any unlawful killing by police officers or unknown armed persons, promptly, impartially and efficiently investigating allegations and prosecuting those involved. The impunity that currently reigns has facilitated killing on a massive scale, hitting the poorest and most marginalized segments of the population in particular."