ALAN JAZMINES: Prison diary, 10 March 2011

NDFP Peace Consultant

Late last night, an abusive and rotten police offical emphasized what they think of human rights, and how detainees here at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame should be put in their "proper place".

Yesterday's Camp Duty Officer (CDO) drunk with liquor and power, started banging at the cell gates of several cell blocks at eleven in the evening, barged into individual cells, belted out abusive and arrogant words, ordered the detainees to be roused from their sleep, and made them fall in line for a "headcount".

Even the female detainees were not spared. Against the advice of more decent subordinate guards that the privacy of the female detainees has to be respected especially as they were already asleep and were clad only in slight clothes for sleeping, the said police official barged into the cells of the female detainees and ordered them to get up from their beds and present themselves in front of him.

In a vain effort to hide his identity, the police officer removed his nameplate from his uniform. But many of the detainees know him as Police Chief Inspector (PCI) Eco.

His abuses reached their heights when he entered Cell Block Alpha at eleven thirty in the evening.

Detainees are allowed to lock their cells from inside right after the guards' padlocking of the cells from the outside. This is to prevent guards from entering the cells without just reason, abusing the detainees and stealing the detainees' personal possessions when the latter are already asleep. But, prevented from immediately being able to enter detainee Rizal Ali's cell no. 8 because it was also padlocked from inside, the abusive police officer ordered the detainee's own padlock to be opened and while hurling invectives, confiscated the padlock and barged into Ali's cell.

Also, after barging into detainee Mauwiya Musabpi's cell no. 7 and seeing a tube of toothpaste lying around, the abusive police officer confiscated it, claiming that it might be used to make improvised bombs.

Mauwiya protested the confiscation, saying that the toothpaste was part of the package of goods given to him and a number of other detainees by a human rights organization. Mauwiya outrightly complained "Ito'y human rights violations." (This is a human rights violation). The arrogant officer in turn shouted "Anong human rights? Walang human rights sa amin." (What human rights? There is no such thing as human rights as far as we are concerned.)

In the next cell no. 6, the said abusive officer also confiscated detainee Gilbert Soliman's small nail cutter.

And using his cellphone camera, the atrocious police officer also took a picture of some detainees, including Ed Sarmiento, in order to terrorize them.

As soon as their cell gates were opened this morning, detainees in Cell Block Alpha wrote a collective letter of complaint addressed to the Chief of the PNP Custodial Center detailing the atrocities and abuses they underwent in the hands of PCI Eco the night before.

Last night's abuses at our detention center comprise but a tiny speck of many and worse abuses and terrorizing being committed against police and military detainees, especially political detainees, in this country. It shows how rotten, abusive and unmindful of human rights are the prisons and the police/military establishments in the country.