DILG to investigate Cebu search operation
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has ordered an investigation into a search operation at the Cebu provincial jail last Tuesday where prisoners were made to strip naked even as authorities recovered suspected drug paraphernalia, bladed weapons, cellphones and a laptop computer.
"I will have it investigated," Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno said in a text message Friday.
Photos showing hordes of prisoners have triggered accusations of more rights abuses in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. Amnesty International Philippines said the incident “amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.” The Commission on Human Rights said it will look into the matter.
The regional office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said this was necessary to protect the search team who were "clearly outnumbered."
The search team is about 280 personnel from PDEA, police and military while the detention facility has around 3,600 prisoners.
PDEA Director General Isidro Lape?a claims photos of naked prisoners during the search operation in Cebu provincial jail was “intentionally leaked out to discredit” their agency.
“I think the prison guards that were not included (in the operation) they intentionally leaked out to discredit the drug enforcement agencies. I think they have connection with the drug syndicate,” Lapena said in a radio interview.
Amnesty International Philippines added that “It is state obligation to guarantee that prisoners are treated in accordance with international standards, including the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners or the Mandela Rules.”
The search was done at 2 am.
Lape?a said the agency did not include jail guards to prevent their planned raid from leaking out.
“The report that came to me from the regional director is that it came from one of the prison guards,” he said, referring to the photos of naked prisoners.
“Actually the prison guards were not included on the search team because in the previous searches despite reports there were no good result, so the analysis this was intentionally leaked to discredit our search and to for the authority to look bad who meant very well,” he added.
Lape?a explained that Regional PDEA Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz ordered the raid and the undressing of prisoners to prevent violence inside the jail facility during the operation.
“The regional director served as ground commander being the lead agency. That is his judgement call to prevent any untoward incident that might result to pandemonium or mass slaughter because of the reported presence of bladed weapons and firearms there,” said Lapena.
“So they make sure during the search, when the inmates went out of cell they do not have weapons,” he said.
Lape?a also noted that the government operatives that conducted the raid only numbered to 280 while the total number of inmates that were subject of the operation is about 3,600.
“There is a criminal instinct, so if they put out a blade and stab someone then that will create a situation that everybody does not want to happen. It might be result to mass slaughter,” he said.
Lape?a said during the operation the government authorities were able to confiscate 68 bladed weapons, 80 cellular phones, one laptop and 19 medium packs of shabu worth P100,000. Robina Asido/DMS