Naked inmates issue: PDEA-7 chief says that is for our mutual protection
CEBU CITY-The director of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) on Thursday defended its decision to let inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) remove their clothes during a surprise inspection on Tuesday dawn.
PDEA-7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz said law enforcers had to protect themselves from inmates who may have wanted to attack them using bladed weapons hidden beneath their shirts or pants.
“That action (for prisoners to remove their clothes) was a mutual protection for both the agents and the inmates. If they are not wearing anything, then we’re sure that not a single bladed weapon is hidden from us ,” he told the Inquirer.
Upon seeing photos of the naked CPDRC inmates in online news, Amnesty International (AI) expressed concern, saying the incident “clearly amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners.”
AI, in a statement, said it is the duty of authorities to “ensure that all persons deprived of liberty are protected from torture and other ill-treatment.”
The group cited Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act, which states the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment as a deliberate and aggravated treatment inflicted by a person in authority or agent of a person in authority against a person under his/her custody, which attains a level of security causing suffering, gross humiliation or debasement.”
Ruiz said one of the inmates did not remove his clothes.
Upon inspection, he said, a PDEA agent recovered a bladed weapon concealed on his clothes.
“What if my agent got stabbed? Do they (AI) want that to happen? They keep on insisting that we violated the rights of the inmates. But don’t we (PDEA agents) have the right to protect ourselves as well?,” he asked.
“Next time, if there will be another Greyhound operation at the CPDRC, let them (human right groups) do it. Let us see what they will do,” he added.
Clad in full battle gear, PDEA-7 agents raided the CPDRC around 1 p.m. on Tuesday.
Detainees were asked to remove their clothes and stay at the facility’s open air quadrangle as the agents with the help of police operatives and members of the Armed Forces’ Central Command searched the belongings and rooms of the inmates one by one.
Among the contraband seized by law enforcers were 76 cellular phones; 19 medium-size packs of shabu worth P30,000; a plastic containing marijuana leaves; assorted drug paraphernalia that include lighters, rolled tin foils, scissors, and a digital weighing scale; cash amounting to P92,000; bladed weapons; three DVD players; a tablet; laptop; passbook with a deposit of more than P300,000 and bank transaction receipts.
There was no need to secure a search warrant from the court since it was Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III, CPDRC’s chief jailer, who gave permission for the surprise inspection.
Of the cellular phones seized, three were found at the detention cell where suspected Cebu drug lord Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro, one of the top drug personalities in Cebu, has been staying.
A pack of shabu was also recovered inside the same detention cell where at least 10 inmates were confined. PDEA-7 was conducting an investigation to find out who owned the prohibited substance.
Ruiz said at least five inmates from whom the packs of shabu were found were facing charges for violating Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The surprise inspection was conducted barely three weeks after two signal jammers were installed at the CPDRC to ensure that inmates can no longer communicate outside; and six months after the facility was raided by the police.
One passbook recovered from an inmate associated with Alvaro showed a deposit of P300,000 and withdrawal of P500,000—all in the same day.
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