Female political prisoners question the construction of “first class jail”

Jul. 25, 2014

News Release

24 July 2014


Female political prisoners at the Taguig City Jail (TCJ) slammed the BS Aquino government for constructing a “first class jail” meant only for high profile detainees such as pork barrel scammers Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce-Enrile, and other personalities like Atty. Gigi Reyes and Janet Napoles.


“Nakakadismayang malaman na ang ginagawang first class jail ay para sa mga pulitiko at personaheng nagnakaw, nagsamantala at nagpasasa sa kabang-yaman ng bansa (It is disappointing to know that a first class jail is being built for politicians and personalities who pocketed, exploited, and took advantage of  the nation’s coffers),” TCJ female political prisoners said in a statement released yesterday.


The so-called state of the art jail is one of the projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), according to Malacanang’s list in its effort to justify DAP.  While the total cost of the jail construction remains unknown, an amount of P20 million from DAP was allocated for the said jail. Situated next to the building of Taguig City Jail, the female detainees can see through the corridors the on-going construction of the “first-class jail”.  The facility can house three inmates in a room and will have a courtroom for hearing of cases.


The female political prisoners cannot help but compare their detention facility with that of the planned first-class jail. “Ang mga detenido sa pangkawaniwang city jails ay nagtitiis sa napaka-sikip na espasyo, kulang sa higaan, mahirap na suplay ng tubig, kulang na pasilidad at kagamitan para sa mga may sakit,” (detainees in regular jails suffer are cramped in small spaces, there is shortage of beds; and there is lack of water supply and facilities for those who are sick).  


The political prisoners who are in the Taguig City Jail-female dorm are NDFP peace consultant Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Gemma Carag, Marissa Espedido, Pastora Latagan, Evelyn Legaspi, Rhea Pareja, Miguela Peniero, and Andrea Rosal. Mariadel Torres, the four-month pregnant women’s rights activist was also detained at the TCJ-FD before she was brought to the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital due to threatened abortion.


The nine female political prisoners share the fourth floor of TCJ with 130 other female inmates, with four cells allotted to them. Some 28-35 detainees occupy the 6m X 3m cell. In each cell, at least 24 inmates use the triple bunk beds meant for 18 persons only; the rest of inmates sleep on the cold cement floor. At the female dorm, the 1 meter X 30 meter corridor also serves as visiting and activity area for the 139 prisoners. The infirmary at the female dorm has neither a faucet nor a comfort room.


Female detainees live under such conditions while they see Gigi Reyes, who is also detained in the same jail for plunder charge, in her own room beside the warden’s office at the first floor. The women prisoners witness how much restaurant food is coming inside the TCJ for Reyes while they had to make do with the measly Php 50.00 a day food ration.


The female political prisoners said constructing a high-tech jail facility is not a solution to meet the needs of the high risk/high profile prisoners. “This will only widen the gap among prisoners.”


The government should instead seriously address the need for reform and rehabilitation of the jails, and provide for the basic needs of each prisoner. “Aanhin ang isang first class jail kung ang karamihan sa mga jail sa bansa ay hindi papasa sa national at international standards,” (What do we need a first class jail for if almost all of the jails in the country do not meet the national and international standards?) the statement ended. (davaotoday.com)

Reference: Roneo Clamor, SELDA national coordinator, 0917-5965859

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