BJMP urged to end ‘oppressive’ rules that fuel hunger in prisons

MANILA, Philippines — A group representing the families of political prisoners has called on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to end “oppressive” policies that fuel hunger in prisons.

Kapatid released the statement on Thursday after inmates at Iloilo District Jail staged a protest on the roof of a prison building over the alleged lack and poor quality of food in the facility. The detainees also demanded the replacement of the director of the prison.

“The condition of Iloilo detainees is only a microcosm. Hunger is a reality in prisons in the Philippines and it is not because of lack of food but because of oppressive prison policies,” said Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim.

Lim urged the government to investigate the deteriorating prison conditions in the country and roll back the “numerous arbitrary restrictions” on food.

She added that families of political prisoners must also deal with restrictions such as transferring the contents of any sachet such as coffee, milk or shampoo into a transparent container, and having food “fed and crushed with sticks”.

“We at Kapatid call on the BJMP to order all prison authorities to allow paabot of raw and uncooked food in prisons. There is also no reason for drinking water to be restricted when drinking water is hardly available inside prisons,” Lim said.

The organization also called for a review of the prison cooperative system as it “is part of the problem and therefore cannot be the solution”.

“These cooperatives are frontally held by LDPs but who really owns, finances and profits from these cooperatives which have become monopolies that feed on PDLs who are mostly poor?” she says.

Probe

In a statement on Thursday, the Home Office said it viewed the inmates’ protest “with great concern” and ordered the BJMP to investigate the incident.

The BJMP is responsible for facilities for those serving sentences of less than three years and those on trial

The agency also ordered the temporary relief of Chief Prison Inspector Norberto Miciano from his position as prison warden. He also instructed the BJMP regional office to address the concerns of those deprived of their liberty and ensure that they receive adequate food.

“We will continue to take steps to improve prison services and correctional facilities to assist in the rehabilitation of PDLs and their eventual reintegration into society,” the DILG said.

Extreme overcrowding, poor sanitation, inadequate ventilation, lack of access to adequate food and clean water, lack of access to quality health services, and physical and sexual violence are some of the conditions inhumane conditions suffered by PDLs deprived of their liberty in the Philippines. — Gaea Katreena Cabico


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