MANILA: Ten Philippine police officers have been suspended for running a secret prison where jailors wearing wigs and masks beat and abused inmates, the government said Tuesday.
The Commission on Human Rights and global rights organisation Amnesty International criticised the Philippine National Police and demanded the prosecution of the suspects and that the facility be shut down.
"The torture happens at time of arrest, a few days later, and every time the officers become intoxicated, or when they are forcing the inmates to admit to a crime," Commission spokesman Mark Cebreros told AFP.
"According to one of the complainants, the officers wear wigs and masks. There is a terror effect," he said.
The torture had been going on since February last year, Cebreros said.
The prison, which is not in the official list of Philippine police detention facilities, is a converted house in a gated residential community in Binan town just outside of Manila.
It is run by an intelligence unit of the Binan police, Cebreros added.
Its officers spun a "roulette" wheel to pick among a list of tortures to be meted out, he said.
One punishment, code-named "Manny Pacman" after the Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, has an officer continuously punching an inmate for 20 seconds.
Another had a prisoner hung upside down, like a bat, for 30 seconds, Cebreros said.
Investigators have seized the painted wheel and a brown woman's wig as evidence as they carry out a criminal investigation, Cebreros said.
The officers face life in prison if convicted of torture, he added.
Fifteen inmates, most of them facing drugs charges, were moved to another detention facility earlier this month to head off possible reprisals after they agreed to testify against the officers, he added.
"For police officers to use torture 'for fun' is despicable. These are abhorrent acts. Suspending officers is not enough," Amnesty said in a statement.
National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Theodore Sindac did not answer calls made by AFP on Tuesday.
However a police statement by the police forces in Laguna province, which includes Binan, confirmed the 10 officers have been suspended and confined to a police camp for "alleged maltreatment of detainees".
Chief Inspector Arnold Formento and nine subordinates were charged administratively for grave misconduct, and could also face criminal charges, it said.
All 44 prisoners there have been moved to a newly built Binan prison, it added. (AFP)