CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the death of a person while in detention could be considered as torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment prohibited under the Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
Boy Santos/File
Quezon City cops not yet off the hook in Tisoy’s death — CHR
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Police officers involved in the arrest and detention of Genesis “Tisoy” Argoncillo might still be held liable despite the filing of charges against two other inmates who allegedly beat the victim to death inside the police jail in Quezon City last week, According to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the death of a person while in detention could be considered as torture or cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment prohibited under the Republic Act 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.

She also noted that the Philippines is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which seeks to protect the rights of detained individuals.

“Authorities are liable when there are violations of the provisions of the law and the convention,” she added in Filipino.

The anti-torture law aims to “ensure that the human rights of all persons, including suspects, detainees and prisoners, are respected at all times.”

CHR commissioner Leah Armamento earlier said that charges for violating the said law may be filed against the police officers involved in the arrest and detention of Argoncillo, who was picked up last Friday for not wearing a shirt while outside his house in Barangay Sauyo, Novaliches.

He died on Tuesday after he was allegedly beaten by two inmates inside the detention cell of the Novaliches police station 4.

Police initially claimed that Argoncillo was not beaten and died due to overcrowding in the detention cell and breathing problem.

However, when the victim’s family released his death certificate showing that he bore physical marks as a result of beating, the police changed their story and pinpointed two co-detainees who allegedly beat him up.

Murder charges were filed against Justine Mercado and Richard Bautista, both members of the Sputnik Gang, for supposedly beating the victim in jail.

Armamento said the murder charges against the gang members would not exonerate the Novaliches policemen, since the beating happened while the victim was under their custody.

She said the police officers might be held liable for arbitrary detention as the victim was detained beyond the allowable eight hours for light crimes.

The CHR lauded the immediate relief of Novaliches police station 4 chief Supt. Carlito Grijaldo and four other police officers in the station.

De Guia said the CHR hopes that the incident would result in the review of the drive against tambays or loiterers.

“It is important for us to have a clear policy that will ensure that its implementation will not result in violations of any rights,” she said.

“We want to reiterate that it is against the Constitution to arrest anyone without any legal basis. Republic Act 10158 or the act decriminalizing vagrancy clearly states that being a tambay is not against the law.”

Police said the arrests of tambays are due to violation of existing local ordinances, such as those that prohibit drinking liquor in the streets or being half-naked in public places. 

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS GENESIS “TISOY” ARGONCILLO
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