By: Dexter Cabalza / 03:03 AM June 09, 2017
A human rights group has criticized Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) officials for their failure to restore electricity at the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
On Tuesday night, a noise barrage staged by the inmates to protest the power outage led to a brawl among rival groups, leaving two detainees dead and 17 others injured.
Electricity to the jail which houses high-value and high-risk inmates, including Abu Sayyaf members, political detainees and big-time drug suspects, has been cut since May 30 after the lone power transformer broke down.
“Severely affected were the inmates who were suffering from extreme heat due to lack of electricity. Making it worse were the overcrowding and tragic situation inside cells,” the human rights watchdog Karapatan said in a statement.
“They said it [power outage] would be indefinite,” Senior Insp. Fronstone Dang-iw, public information officer of BJMP-National Capital Region, said on Thursday. According to him, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has not said when power would be restored to the facility.
All the facilities at MMDJ, including the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (Sica 1), are now powered by generators, Dang-iw told the Inquirer.
BJMP spokesperson Chief Insp. Xavier Solda, meanwhile, said that Meralco had vowed to complete repairs after 14 hours.
“We expect it to be finished by nighttime tomorrow (Friday),” Solda added. According to him, the repair of the transformer will cost P381,000.
At the same time, he denied reports that power was cut because the MMDJ owes Meralco P5 million in outstanding electric bills.
“We have checked [with] accounting and there are no unpaid bills. We will only be paying the cost of repairing the transformer,” Solda said.
The BJMP identified the fatalities as Lucky Natividad of “Bahala Na Gang” and Gerald Tolentino of “Sigue-Sigue Sputnik Gang.” Both suffered stab wounds.
Dang-iw said that the six inmates who sustained serious injuries were returned to their cells on Thursday after treatment at Taguig-Pateros District Hospital.
“We have segregated the inmates [by] their affiliation. We have also built secondary gates between them so riots will be prevented,” he added.
As for the issues raised by Karapatan, Dang-iw said the BJMP was doing its best to address these.
“We prioritize the welfare of our inmates because they are our clients. Our job is to keep them safe,” he told the Inquirer.
Among the high-profile detainees at the MMDJ are alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and expelled Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) member Angel Manalo, estranged brother of INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo, who faces charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.