- Posted August 22, 2013 by
Philippines Denies Human Rights Inspectors
In a bold move, Commissioner Mison, Commissioner of the Philippines Bureau of Immigration, denied investigators from the Commission on Human Rights access to the Immigration’s Detention Center. Investigators Nick S. Agustin and Mike Corim went to the BI jail to investigate on a complaint made by the Department of Foreign Affairs. They did not announce their visit and after a call to the Commissioner, the jail guards sent the investigators home. By law the investigators can “Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities”. Agustin said he would file a complaint against Mison. The Department of Foreign Affairs received a complaint from Greek national, Nikolaos Spanoudis regarding arbitrary detention, extortion and denial of medical services.
The Philippines Bureau of Immigration is holding over 150 foreigners, mostly on minor visa violations, many of them arrested and detained without arrest warrants and/or without proper hearings or without due process. Some detainees complain they are kidnapped for ransom by the bureau and have to pay huge sums to be deported or stay jailed indefinitely.
Commissioner Mison is “sweet talking” on TV and in the newspapers responding to complaints of detainee’s wives regarding their locked-up husbands. “We will act as soon as possible to their grievances and for those scalawags in the bureau, your days are numbered”, Mison said in a newspaper Monday. The reality however, is that since the wives complained, things worsened in the Bicutan Immigration jail.
Not only was the Commission on Human Rights denied access to detainees, also press and lawyers are not allowed to talk with the inmates. Then three Korean nationals were withheld from appearing to their court hearings by Warden Rev Dela Cruz. They were scheduled to appear in various courts on Monday and Tuesday but Dela Cruz would not transport them to the courts citing orders from OIC Mison. This generally means that a hearing is moved one to several months so the Koreans will face longer detention times.
The guards, under command of Dela Cruz, are getting more aggressive against the wives and detainees since their stories about corruption and illegal detention broke. One guard, nicknamed ‘Caloy’, made death threads against Jerlen Payot, fiancée of Spanoudis. Payot filed a complaint at the Bicutan police station but as of today the ‘scalawag’ Caloy is still at work. He also told the girlfriend of an American detainee that only legally married wives would be allowed on the weekend family visits, leaving out girlfriends, fiancées and common law wives. Another guard was challenging Turkish detainee Gokhan Tekeli for a fight and insulting his pregnant wife. Warden Dela Cruz did not want to disclose the names of the guards involved and some guards refuse to wear their badges despite strict instructions to wear uniforms and badges all the time.