DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Contrary to the claim of the Philippine National Police, human rights group Karapatan said, on Friday, that the case of the strip-search that took place in Makati City was not an isolated case as similar incidents happened involving state forces and agents in various parts of the country.
In a statement on Friday, Karapatan condemned the dehumanizing strip search of a female drug suspect in a police station in Makati City, dubbing the incident as cruel and degrading treatment of a person arrested and detained.
“Police personnel who were involved in the said act should be meted out punishment under the Anti-Torture Law, while their superiors should be investigated as well to look into their accountability, considering the principle of command responsibility under the said law,” Karapatan said.
The group added that the same incident also took place in Central Visayas when elements of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Region 7 conducted strip searches of prisoners during Greyhound operations in jail facilities in May last year.
Complaints were also aired by relatives and visitors of political prisoners subjected to strip searches in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, Karapatan reported.
Despite the previous incidents, Karapatan lamented that the practice of strip search still persists in the country and is regarded by the police and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology as a standard operating procedure.
“This practice should have been deemed illegal with the passage of the Anti-Torture Law in 2009. However, in the minds of authorities on a power-trip high, such acts are justifiable as they continue to set it out in their guidelines and manual of operations,” the group asserted.
Karapatan added that such policies and acts used by state forces are not surprising as torture and other forms of inhumane, cruel and degrading treatments continue despite the enactment of the anti-torture law in 2009.
The group is able to document 248 cases of torture during the term of Benigno S. Aquino III and another 94 cases of torture under the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Some of them were burned alive and left for dead, while many were treated as punching bags of soldiers and police personnel,” Karapatan said.
The human rights group concluded: “Torture is a grave and heinous crime. We demand justice for the victims of torture and the end to the practice and policy of strip searches. We commend the media for reporting on and exposing these cruel practices. We call on the Filipino people to continue to be vigilant and to uphold and defend our rights.” (davaotoday.com)