City’s inmates in dire straits

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

POOR health care and nutrition, overcrowding and lack of medicine or food aid are among the problems inmates in the Cebu City Jail face.

A missionaries’ group asked the Cebu City Government yesterday if there was anything the City could do to help improve the prisoners’ lot.

Addressing the Cebu City Council, Joaquim Brown of the Missionaries of Hope reported the problems the group observed in recent months while doing charity work for the detainees.


Officials of the city jail have previously raised these problems before the City’s Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC), where the jail is represented.

Cebu City Jail Warden Johnson Calub said that 35 inmates have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) and 39 were confined in the jail’s psychiatric cell for various conditions.

Of the total inmates who contracted TB this year, 13 were already cured, two were transferred to another jail and 16 are still undergoing treatment. Medication has so far failed to help one; two others may suffer from the same condition.

One has already died.

Brown said that the jail has no doctor on duty who can conduct regular check-ups to monitor the sick detainees and other prisoners.

The Missionaries of Hope is asking the City to provide a doctor, a psychiatrist and a portable X-ray machine and laboratory to directly attend to the sick inmates.

One doctor only

Warden Calub admitted that no doctor is detailed to the facility and that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) regional office will only send their doctor when the need arises in each jail in the Visayas.

“We only request for doctors for our TB patients since we only have one doctor for the whole region, while those psychiatric inmates are brought to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center every Wednesday for check-ups,” Calub told the council.

BJMP has also failed to purchase TB medicine for the inmates, since the office only allocated P3 per day for each person’s medication.

The medication allowance for inmates who are well will be immediately given to sick inmates to sustain their treatment, Calub said.

The jail warden said there are also deficiencies in the food for both sick and healthy inmates, which have led to malnutrition.

Each inmate has a P50 subsistence allowance per day. All food and medication expenses are shouldered by BJMP.


Records from the City Jail showed that the facility has more than 2,000 detainees but was designed to accommodate only 1,700.

The council asked City Health Department (CHD) to attend to the needs of the inmates, following the report that no medical professionals have been taking care of them.

CHD was also asked to conduct regular medical check-ups in the facility.

Dr. Daisy Villa, chief of CHD, said her office has to take on the task despite their limited number of doctors.

“We will include that in our program but I still have to talk to our doctors since they are serving at least six health centers,” Villa said.

The legislative department also asked Department of Health (DOH) to provide psychiatric care for the inmates since the City has no capability to handle them.

To allow the City to extend help, the council asked the Cebu City Jail Management to formally write the City and ask for assistance, like additional funds for food, medication and other essential expenses for the inmates.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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