By Alexandria Dennise San Juan
The Quezon City Police belies allegations of brutality causing the death of an inmate in one of its detention cells claimed by his family, adding that their policemen were strictly ordered to follow protocols for rights-based treatment of suspects and detainees.
In a press statement Thursday, the QCPD maintained that the inmate, identified as Genesis Argoncillo, 22, complained difficulty in breathing morning of June 19 before he was rushed to Novaliches District Hospital.
In a report from the QCPD-Novaliches Police Station (PS-4), Argoncillo was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician who further certified that no signs of external injuries were found on his body.
According to the victim’s sister, Marilou, his brother was arrested by the police night of June 15 in front of a store near their house for being shirtless.
Marilou said that while at the detention cell, his brother was being beaten by his fellow detainees, which she believed, caused his death.
However, PS-4 Station Commander Superintendent Carlito Grijaldo said that Argoncillo was arrested last June 15 for alarm and scandal after operatives chanced upon his group creating trouble in Barangay Sauyo.
Grijaldo also clarified that the ‘Oplan Galugad’ where Argoncillo and his group were arrested, was different from the operation conducted for violators of law and city ordinances including half-naked people, and ‘tambays’ or loiterers.
He also said that the wounds on the victim’s face might be self-inflicted, which the QCPD supported, saying there was no violent and inhumane treatment on Argoncillo or any other detainees.
“We would like to make it clear there was no violent and inhumane treatment on Arconcillo contrary to the allegations of the family, citing a supposed broken rib and bruise marks on the cadaver. These are mere conjectures until an autopsy is performed. Besides, our policemen are under strict orders to follow the PNP protocols calling for rights-based treatment of suspects and detainees,” the QCPD stated.
Argoncillo was the fourth inmate of the packed detention cell in Novaliches Police Station who died in a span of one month.
All victims, based on the police reports, complained difficulty in breathing and were brought to nearby hospital where they died.
The QCPD admitted that all of their custodial facilities are heavily congested.
It was also found out that the PS-4 detention cell, which houses a total of 138 detainees, was built only for six detainees based on the international standards.
“Despite the congestion, our District Health Service along with our Human Rights Affairs Office exert all possible efforts to alleviate the situation by conducting weekly inspections of the facilities and the detainees, and monthly medical missions providing medicines and necessary hygiene kits for the detainees. Additional water and ventilation are also provided,” they said.
Moreover, the QCPD added that they are conducting a thorough investigation which will include an autopsy, should the family allow, to determine the real cause of Argoncillo’s death.
“Should violence be established as the cause of death, we will investigate everyone involved, including the police officers on duty, until the truth comes out, and then prosecute the guilty to the full extent of the law. Should any police be involved, we assure the public and the family of the deceased of full transparency,” they concluded.