Estrada visits disgruntled city jail inmates, promises them aid
By Erika Sauler
Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:08 am | Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
“Even the accused should be treated as human beings,” ex-President and Manila Mayor-elect Joseph Estrada, himself a former detainee, told prisoners when he visited the Manila City Jail (MCJ) on Monday.
Estrada’s statement was met with cheers and applause by the prisoners who had asked him for a dialogue after some of them staged a noise barrage last Thursday to air their grievances against the jail warden who has since resigned.
In an interview with the Inquirer, some prisoners complained about the food, the lack of medicine and the alleged abuses committed by former jail warden Supt. Lyndon Torres.
“When you have fever and you go to the infirmary, they will just give you vitamins instead of medicine. Sometimes it’s even expired,” an inmate said.
Another complained that they were fed with adobo that consisted of just chicken bones or bean sprouts doused in hot water. The MCJ has a daily food budget of P50 per detainee.
One said that gay detainees used to be free to wear makeup and sport long hair but Torres had their heads shaved.
Another inmate claimed Torres would ask one inmate to hit another with a baseball bat as part of the “initiation” to become a “trustee.” The trustee-detainee would in turn have the “privilege” of receiving food and money from a jail personnel in exchange for services rendered like doing the laundry, cooking food or running other errands.
The new warden, Supt. Noel Montalvo, gave Estrada a briefing on the problems at the facility, which included congestion, the proliferation of informal settlers around the facility and the lack of medicines and logistical support.
Estrada, accompanied by daughter Jackie, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, Councilors Let-Let Zarcal and Dennis Alcoreza, promised to address the issues after he assumes office on June 30.
He also led in the distribution of 4,000 gift packs that contained a shirt, a pair or slippers, toothpaste, rice and snacks to the detainees.
There are 3,224 inmates in MCJ when the ideal number should be 1,150, a congestion of 180 percent, Montalvo said.
Other problems were the lack of jail personnel, administrative supplies, flooding, security hazards and insufficient support from the local government.
“I didn’t expect the situation to be like this. We’ll do something about it,” said Estrada who also promised to provide volunteer lawyers to help inmates obtain a speedy trial.
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/424127/estrada-visits-disgruntled-city-jail-inmates-promises-them-aid#ixzz2VtjhkFSG
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