'First class' jail in Taguig gets flak

By Rhodina Villanueva, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 25 2014 07:22 AM | Updated as of Jul 25 2014 04:08 PM

MANILA - Female political prisoners at the Taguig City Jail (TCJ) criticized the government for reportedly constructing a ''first class jail'' meant only for high-profile detainees, the group Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto or SELDA said yesterday.

“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.

They are apparently referring to Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff of detained Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. Reyes has been isolated from other detainees in TCJ when the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology said she was “radioactive” after undergoing various tests at a hospital.

SELDA said the so-called state of the art jail is one of the projects funded by the Disbursement Acceleration Program, based on Malacañang’s list in its effort to justify DAP, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“While the total cost of the jail construction remains unknown, an amount of P20 million from DAP was allocated for the jail. Situated next to the building of Taguig City Jail, the female detainees can see through the corridors the ongoing construction of the ‘first-class jail.’ The facility can house three inmates in a room and will have a courtroom for hearing of cases,” SELDA said.

The female political prisoners said they cannot help but compare their detention facility with that of the planned first class jail. “Detainees in regular jails suffer, they are cramped in small spaces. There is a shortage of beds. And there is lack of water supply and facilities for those who are sick,” they said.

The political prisoners who are in the TCJ’s female dorm are National Democratic Front peace consultant Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Gemma Carag, Marissa Espedido, Pastora Latagan, Evelyn Legaspi, Rhea Pareja, Miguela Peniero, Andrea Rosal and Mariadel Torres.

SELDA said the nine political prisoners share the fourth floor of TCJ with 130 other female inmates, with four cells allotted to them. “Some 28 to 35 detainees occupy the six-meter by three-meter 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 one meter by 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,” Roneo Clamor of SELDA pointed out.

SELDA said the government should instead seriously address the need for reform and rehabilitation of the jails, and provide for the basic needs of each prisoner.