Search on for more secret jails, 'wheels of torture'

Posted at 02/05/14 9:36 PM

MANILA -- The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is leaving no stone unturned in its investigation into the "wheel of torture" discovered at the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) of the Binan police in Laguna.

Speaking to ANC's "Headstart" on Wednesday, CHR chairperson Etta Rosales said they are searching nationwide for similar detention facilities and torture devices.

The roulette, which was discovered at a secret detention center of the PIB in Binan, is allegedly spun around by police officers during "torture time."

Where the marker stops determines the kind of torture the detainees will experience.

The roulette marking "Paniki" means a detainee will be hung upside down for 30 seconds, while "Manny Pacquiao" means a detainee will be mauled for 20 seconds.

"We can't say that every province has a clandestine torture chamber, but we can't say that they don't have this. The only way to know this is to inspect and monitor," Rosales said.

She said the CHR is intensifying its efforts in ensuring that detainees' rights are not violated in other police facilities.

She said torture is an "absolute crime."

"And you cannot in any way tolerate this," she added.

'Torture for pleasure'

According to Rosales, the provincial director of Binan police claimed that they had to set up the temporary detention cell at the PIB's satellite office because jails in municipal police stations are congested.

While this reason may be acceptable, Rosales said the existence of the detention facility should be revealed to the Philippine National Police (PNP) chain of command, as well as the CHR.

"That should be within the loop. This anti-torture law or Republic Act 9745 precisely provides that all detention centers, all provincial, city, municipal, and lock-up cells of police stations must report to the CHR," she said.

"But it was clandestine. Tago siya. It was like a safehouse in a private subdivision," she said.

Citing their investigation, Rosales noted that the PIB has been renting the facility for a year now.

She also said the facility is located in a subdivision owned by a councilor. She did not name the official.

More than 40 detainees, mostly with drug-related cases, were allegedly made to suffer punishment under the "wheel of torture game" inside the secret detention facility.

The CHR chief said police torture inmates due to various reasons: to extract information, to extort money, or worse, for sheer pleasure.

"When they arrest, usually they don't bring them to the police station right away. Kung hindi, they bring them to a hotel, somewhere else to torture them, to extract money out of them, threaten them and their families if they don't give money," she revealed, citing human rights officers on the ground.

"So it's three: to extract information, to extort money, and/or just sheer pleasure," Rosales said.