ILOILO CITY — What can you buy for P70?
For inmates at the Iloilo District Jail (IDJ), it means the cost of their daily meals.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Western Visayas spokesperson Jairus Dogelio said each of the 1,100 inmates at the IDJ male dormitory in Pototan town, Iloilo, was entitled to P70 in subsistence allowance daily—P25 for breakfast, P25 for lunch, and P20 for dinner.
With soaring food prices, he said they just tried to make do with the budget set by the BJMP central office.
He admitted that the task was daunting, especially with the price of a 25-kg sack of rice now costing between P1,800 and P2,000.
A local reporter told the Inquirer that they received reports that inmates were sometimes served salted boiled squash.
Last Aug. 24, the IDJ inmates climbed on the facility’s rooftop to protest the lack and poor quality of food served in prison.
They also complained of the alleged refusal by jail authorities to let in food sent by inmates’ relatives.
The protest prompted the BJMP to relieve the detention facility’s warden, Jail Senior Inspector Norberto Miciano Jr.
Miciano and three others—IDJ chief security officer and two duty personnel who were not identified—were facing administrative charges.
Dogelio said BJMP investigators had gathered enough evidence for gross neglect of duty.
“There is a prima facie case that there was neglect on their part, on the personnel’s and the chief of security’s failure to monitor activities in the cells, and on [Miciano], his failure to properly supervise as well as [lack in] command responsibility,” Dogelio said in a phone interview.
The four had been transferred to other BJMP facilities while the administrative charges were being heard by the BJMP-Western Visayas.
The investigation of the protest, however, prompted the BJMP officials to reopen the commissary or the convenience store inside the IDJ where inmates could buy food and other goods aside from their daily meals.
Dogelio said they would also strictly observe the food menu served in the facility to ensure that the inmates remained healthy.
Under the United Nations (UN) Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, every inmate shall be provided food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength.
The provision of basic needs is also listed as one of BJMP’s core programs. “All PDL (persons deprived of liberty) in custody are provided with three meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner” and that an “adequate supply of potable water is made available to them at all times.”
BJMP’s memorandum issued in 2020 says the “regular diet” in jails should meet the daily minimum nutritional requirements.
The United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also said that any one in detention deprived of adequate food could be considered “torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.
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