MANILA, Philippines – Eight Philippine police officers have been detained for investigation after a video surfaced showing them humiliating, laughing and taking videos of naked recruits during anti-insurgency training, officials said Thursday.
In the latest hazing scandal to hit the country, national police spokesman Agrimero Cruz Jr. said at least three superiors of the eight officers may also be relieved of their posts and investigated over the "barbaric" treatment.
Commission on Human Rights official Byron Bocar said a video sent to the agency showed the officers applying liquid laced with chili pepper on the penises of the trainees, who screamed in pain.
The terrified trainees were also ordered to lick a police insignia coated with the chili liquid and were beaten with sticks as the trainers laughed and took videos with their cellphones. One recruit vomited after being ordered to drink the liquid, officials said.
Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales asked Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo to order an investigation and take steps to prevent police camps from turning into "breeding grounds of future torturers," Bocar said.
The video was sent by unidentified people who may have been among the mistreated trainees, human rights officials said.
National police chief Director-General Raul Bacalzo ordered the filing of administrative and criminal complaints against the officers.
A similar hazing scandal hit the Philippine military in March, when communist guerrillas uploaded a video on YouTube showing army officers slapping, punching and beating dozens of recruits who were clad only in shorts. The video sparked public outrage.
The military acknowledged that the training had occurred three years ago and said the officers have been punished.
Last year, police officials relieved the entire staff of a Manila police station after a television network broadcast a video showing police torturing a naked detainee, who screamed on the floor as a man pulled a rope tied to his genitals and whipped him.
The recent anti-terrorism training was conducted in Laguna province, south of Manila, for would-be police special forces to be deployed against communist and Muslim insurgents, Cruz said. He condemned the cruelty, saying it was not sanctioned by police officials.
The underfunded military and police have been battling allegations of human rights violations as well as widespread corruption, which has sparked unrest and several unsuccessful coup attempts in the past. Human rights watchdogs say abuses are continuing under President Benigno Aquino III, who has promised to penalize violators.