‘Hidden cell’ found in Manila Police District station

Detainees huddle in a makeshift detention cell hidden behind a shelf in the Manila Police District’s Drug Enforcement Unit office yesterday.Photo by MIGUEL DE GUZMAN via Philstar.com

By Rey Galupo/The Philippine Star – More than a dozen detainees were found in a nearly airless cell hidden behind a shelf at the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 yesterday.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and MPD officials clashed over the allegedly secret cell at the station in Tondo.

The 1987 Constitution, which created the CHR, grants the agency the power to exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons or detention facilities.

CHR-National Capital Region investigation chief Gilbert Boyser and his eight-man team made a “surprise visit” at the MPD Station 1 after receiving information that at least 12 persons were being held in a makeshift cell – only five feet wide and with no ventilation except for an exhaust fan – behind the station’s Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) office.

Boyser told The STAR the detainees were hidden from the public and did not undergo inquest proceedings. Their arrests were not properly logged, he added.

He said at least four individuals came forth to testify that they were being asked to produce money in exchange for their freedom.

“These people are going to come out and file charges against the policemen. The process is highly irregular,” he said, adding that he will file charges against MPD Station 1 commander Superintendent Robert Domingo.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia told The STAR that the commission “confirmed that 12 people have been detained for at least 10 days without the filing of charges.”

De Guia said they are also investigating the allegations of those detained that they were tortured and suffered ill treatment while in detention.

The detainees, however, told The STAR they were never tortured but some of them had been arrested over the weekend but no charges have been filed against them so far.

Domingo, however, claimed that all 12 detainees were arrested in a “One-Time, Big-Time” operation from Wednesday night to the wee hours of Thursday.


Boyser said the detainees’ families told them they were haggling with DEU police officers on the “fee” for their release, which ranges from P40,000 to P100,000 per head.

Domingo and Boyser argued for several minutes in front of the detainees, with CHR representatives promising to dig deep and charge the erring policemen.

Domingo said he welcomed the investigation and the impending charges “because it is the only way for us to explain our side.”


Domingo said the 12 detainees were temporarily held at the DEU office because their arrest papers were not yet completed.

“We only have one computer. We have very limited resources. All we can do is to process them very slowly,” he said, vowing to finish all the paperwork today and take the detainees to court.

The MPD Station 1 – a building that was formerly occupied by a Department of Public Works and Highways satellite office – has a detention facility that can only accommodate 40 males and 10 females, Domingo said.

There are currently more than 70 males and 15 females being held in the facility and a detainee told The STAR they sleep in shifts and take turns sitting down.


Boyser said when they arrived at the station at past 6 p.m., the cell was covered by the shelf, making it harder for the detainees to breathe.

“It was like they were being hidden from plain view. Is that how we treat our suspects? These are suspects and have not been proven guilty yet. They have human rights to be protected,” he said.

Domingo, however, said he ordered the detainees be placed there because they cannot join the other inmates in the detention facility until they undergo inquest proceedings.

Domingo cited the case of his predecessor, Superintendent Redento Ulsano, who was relieved from his post as station commander after the CHR team who visited him last year filed cases against him for putting drug suspects in the cell of those who have already been inquested and are waiting for their transfer to the city jail.

Find more like this: News

  • Pinoy floral designer wins big with toilet paper wedding dress
  • DepEd: Proposed drug test for 10-year-old students violates law
  • Love with rights: Why legalize same-sex marriage?
  • Filipino teachers hired by Baltimore may be forced to leave U.S.
  • DOJ lets Sister Patricia Fox keep missionary visa
  • Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7


  • Jose Rizal manga to be released in time for his birthday
  • A New Netflix Series Tells the Story of the Philippines’ Drug War. But Its Critics Are Condemning Amo as Propaganda
  • Where in the Philippines was a scene from ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ shot?
  • CLOSEUP: ‘Lion King’ to include Pinoy flavor in world-class show
  • ‘Riverdale’ stars call out PH magazine for ‘disrespectful’ photoshop editing
  • MORE...


  • A Transgender Paradox, and Platform, in the Philippines
  • The Box That Brings Christmas to the Philippines
  • ‘Pinoy Aquaman’ swims 23 kilometers for peace in Mindanao
  • Former Pinoy dishwasher now owner of pizzeria in Italy
  • Women’s servitude blights Philippine society
  • MORE...


  • Philippines closes ‘cesspool’ tourist island of Boracay
  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists
  • El Nido to impose daily visitor limits in 3 iconic tourist sites
  • Philippines starts building world’s first resort airport
  • MORE...


  • Manny Pacquiao v Lucas Matthysse: Filipino’s career ‘not over’
  • ABL: Justin Brownlee is getting more Pinoy by the day
  • Gilas beats Japan again in FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers
  • 2018 Winter Olympics: Philippines’ Asa Miller lands 70th in giant slalom
  • Michael Christian Martinez: Olympian and pioneer in Philippine figure skating
  • MORE...

    OFW News

  • DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Kuwait
  • Some OFWs turn to vlogging to beat loneliness, share life abroad
  • Overseas Filipino Bank to serve immigrants, workers
  • The ‘bagong bayani’ of the Philippines
  • Which countries pay OFWs the highest?
  • MORE...


  • Boracay Set to Ban Tourists for Six Months During Island ‘Rehabilitation’
  • Boracay: the good, bad and ugly sides to Philippine island for tourists
  • Luzon has greatest concentration of unique mammals
  • Mindanao plants 3M trees in an hour, challenges world record
  • Fighting for sharks in the Philippines
  • MORE...

    Pinoy Places
    and Faces