How I spent my April Fools’ Day
This noon, I found myself staring at a mirror, naked. But this happened not inside the privacy of my home but under the scrutiny of a searcher in a small room at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) 1 at Camp Bagong Diwa. I underwent an enforced strip search as directed in a memo by the new Warden, Jail Chief Inspector Jojie Jonathan Pangan.
I am a wife of a political prisoner, not a criminal! I vehemently protest this kind of treatment. My husband was illegally arrested and slapped with trumped-up charges last February 12, 2017 and was transferred from CIDG-NCR to SICA last March 23, 2017.
This is the first time that it happened to me since my first visit to my husband last April 11, 2017. My daughter was once asked to pull down her pants and to flip up her bra.
NO POLITICAL PRISONER was found with drugs even though they were subjected to OPLAN GALUGAD, an operation that would wake up prisoners at about 12:00 midnight, herded out of their cells, asked to remove their shirts and face the wall for inspection of drug possession. NO DRUGS were found in their personal belongings as well.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES NUMBER 2010 – 05 On the CONDUCT OF BODY
SEARCHES ON JAIL VISITORS issued last 16 September 2010 states that “If during the pat/frisk/rub search the jail officer develops probable cause that contraband is being hidden by the subject, who is not likely to be discovered, the Jail Officer shall request for a conduct of strip
search/visual body cavity search.”
“PROBABLE CAUSE – is defined as facts sufficient to support a reasonable belief that criminal activity is probably taking place or knowledge of circumstances indicating a fair probability that evidence of crime will be found. It requires more than a mere “hunch,” but less than proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
My daughter and I have no record of concealing any contraband inside our clothes. If any, there was once an incident that we forgot to remove and accidentally carried a cord of a phone charger inside our bags. There was no intent to hide it from the searchers.
I had to sign the SICA 1 waiver to be able to see my husband whom I am closely monitoring due to his heart disease and hypertension. If not for that, I will not allow anyone to do a strip search on myself. It does not only strip clothes, it also robs someone her dignity.
If the BJMP officials are resolute in curbing the massive entry of contrabands, how come their system fails to do so despite repeated frisking and strip search of other visitors in the past? What about policing their ranks and investigating the possible complicity of some of their own officials?
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines