Iloilo inmates’ protest over food shortage opens talk on prisoners’ rights

August 25, 2022 - 4:55 PM
Inmates hold placards as they gather on the rooftop of the Iloilo District Jail in Pototan town Aug. 24, 2022. (Jennifer Rendon via Philippine Star)

A group of inmates climbed onto the roof of the prison building of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology jail in Barangay Pototan in Iloilo City to protest their supposed lack of food on Thursday, August 24.

This incident was soon picked up and reported online.

The inmates’ plight later became a hot topic on local social media.

Zarraga News Live Station, an Iloilo-based news outfit, uploaded photos of the demonstration that more than a hundred inmates staged on the rooftop of the provincial jail at 2 p.m. last Wednesday.

Based on the photos, the inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDL) called for the ouster of Jail Chief Inspector Norberto Miciano due to the alleged food shortage and poor quality of food at the facility.

Some of the inmates also held placards that expressed their grievances against the jail warden.

“Gutom na kami! Layas warden!” one of the placards read.

The BJMP ordered Miciano’s relief a few hours after the protest amid a pending investigation about the matter.

According to a report of the Philippine STAR, Jairus Anthony Dogelio, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Western Visayas spokesperson, said that jail personnel members were unaware of the incident.

Dogelio said that the PDLs have gained access to the rooftop while a scheduled Mass was ongoing.

The legal counsel of the BJMP Region 6, meanwhile, denied all the food shortage allegations, according to a GMA report.

The legal counsel reportedly said that the jail has a food supervisor who administers the supplies.

Talks on rights of PDLs

Reports about the inmates’ cry for help soon blew up on social media.

Some Filipinos expressed empathy toward them. They pointed out that PDLs have rights too.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but even inmates have their human rights. People go to prison as punishment, not for punishment, when they’ve decided to forfeit their liberty by committing criminal acts. They deserve to eat too,” one Twitter user said.

“Tao pa rin sila dapat tratuhin ng tama even though me nagawa silang kasalanan,” another Facebook user commented.

“Pinagdudusahan nila ang kasalanan nila. Pero ang di pakainjn ay hinde na tama. Mas gusto nyo pa ata maibulsa ng namamahala jan ang pera para sa pagkain nila,” another Facebook user said.

Other Filipinos also argued that not all people who are detained in the facility had been convicted of crimes.

“Wag natin husgahan lahat na anjan sa loob dahil di lahat jan ay may kasalanan. Yun iba jan napagbintangan lng ng mayayaman,” one Facebook user said.

“Hindi lahat ng nakakulong ay kriminal!” another online user expressed.

As of writing, reports said that an investigation into the allegations against the jail officer is still ongoing.