The discovery of a secret torture cell in a police intelligence facility in the Philippines where officers physically abused inmates for fun in a game of “roulette” shows the authorities’ pitiful lack of control over the police force in the country, Amnesty International said today.
The organization is calling on the Aquino administration to act immediately to put an end to routine torture under their watch.
“For police officers to use torture ‘for fun’ is despicable. These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough. Errant police personnel and their commanding officers should be held accountable in a court of law,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Philippines Researcher.
“Torture is a criminal act, and the leadership of the Philippine National Police must end its practice within its ranks. The authorities must ensure that torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is not tolerated.”
The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) discovered the ‘torture roulette’ table during a routine visit to the facility. The officers have a list of different torture positions or ‘torture consequences’ which are chosen by spinning a roulette wheel. A ‘30 second bat position’ for example, meant that the detainee would be hung upside down like a bat for 30 seconds. A ‘20 second Manny Pacquiao’ meant that a detainee would be punched non-stop for twenty seconds.
The CHR reported that 44 detainees at the Philippine National Police Laguna Provincial Intelligence in Biñan, Laguna province had accused at least 10 law enforcement officers of torture and extortion.
‘Drinking sprees’ by the police officers also led to further torture and ill-treatment incidents of the criminal suspects in the police facility.
The CHR said that the detention cell within the police facility was not in the Philippine National Police’s legally-required updated list of all its detention facilities, making it a de facto secret detention facility.
According to the Commission the detainees, who were mostly arrested on drugs-related cases, complained of being tortured from the day they were arrested to force them to give information.
Following an investigation, ten police officers were reportedly relieved of their posts.
“It is gravely concerning and inexcusable that almost three decades after the Philippines ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and five years after it has promulgated the Anti-Torture Law, the message that torture should be absolutely prohibited in all circumstances seems to have failed to reach the police,” said Hazel Galang-Folli.