Sickened by what they claimed was the maltreatment inflicted on them, several underage inmates turned the tables on the jail guards, stabbing one and locking up another inside a toilet.
Officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said the jail guard was released after nearly three hours of dialogue with the facility’s female warden.
Due to complaints of abuse by the underage inmates the BJMP-7 said eight jail guards are under investigation and will be transferred after the bureau finds their replacements.
The names of the jail guards were withheld pending the results of the investigation.
Chief Supt. Deogracias Carreon Tapayan, BJMP chief, said the incident began during a head count of the underage inmates.
Caloy (real name withheld), one of the underage inmates, said one of the jail guards started hitting them with a tarima, a type of platform, while another guard held one of the inmates at gunpoint and fired a warning shot.
He said this proved too much for them, and most of the 160 youth inmates picked a weapon and stabbed one of the guards.
“Naahat lang gyud mi ato gabii (We were forced to do it),” said Caloy.
He said they took one of the jail guards and dragged him straight to a toilet.
“The youth inmates didn’t want to release the jail guard from the toilet because of the maltreatment they received from the guards,” Tapayan said.
Caloy said they wouldn’t have resorted to violence if they weren’t maltreated by the guards.
“They don’t want the media to go here because they don’t want their abuses to be exposed,” Caloy said in Cebuano.
He said they were also protesting several policies on the use of the facilities and the transfer of older inmates to the nearby Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC).
They also want unlimited visiting hours, Caloy said.
Senior Insp. Elsie Eireen Alcomendras, jail warden of Operation Second Chance, said she held a dialogue with the underage inmates, who relented and released the jail guard.
“Our intention was to transfer the inmates 18 years old and above because we don’t want them influencing the minors, but these children protested because they saw things differently,” Alcomendras said.
During the interview inside the jail, at least five minors climbed the perimeter fence and quickly recounted their stories on the beatings they allegedly received from the jail guards.
Still, most of the underage inmates wanted Alcomendras to remain as their warden.
Tapayan said they are still looking for the replacement of the eight jail guards.
Tapayan said if the complaints of the underage inmates are proven true, the eight jail guards will face criminal and administrative investigations.
He said he also assured the parents of the inmates that he will take action on their complaints.
In an interview, Councilor Margot Osmeña said if the “Operation Second Chance” handbook was followed, jail guards were not allowed to deal with the children nor impose sanctions on them. She said their job is to secure the facility.
The councilor, a member of the Operation Second Chance board, said it is the house parents who handle the youth detainees and implement rehabilitation programs in coordination with the city government’s social workers.
“But I don’t know if the lines have been crossed. This we have to find out,” she told Cebu Daily News.
Osmeña said the jail warden admitted to her that two of her jail guards were not trained to handle minor offenders.
“It’s important that the guards are trained to handle minors because the BJMP orientation is not to look at minors as criminals. But the warden said at least two of their guards are not trained and I’m quite concerned about that,” she said. /By Chito O. Aragon and Doris C. Bongcac with UC-MAIN INTERN JESTINE MARIE D. LERIT