Visit To Aklan Rehabilitation Center
by Megs S. Lunn
During the State of The Province Address of Aklan Gov. Carlito S. Marquez on January 31, 2008, he said that, "in 2007, with 207 inmates in its custody, our Aklan Rehabilitation Center (ARC) or Provincial Jail, has undergone improvement with the construction of an annex to the administration building. A rooftop guardhouse was also constructed at the main building. Two Jetmatic pumps were installed while the old well was rehabilitated to insure potable water for the inmates. A medical-dental team from the Dr. Rafael S. Tumbokon Memorial Hospital conducted medical missions for our prisoners while the Philippine Pharmacists Association also held the same activity."
For five (5) years, P/Supt. Cristito Angob was in charge as Warden of the Aklan Rehabilitation Center at Nalook, Kalibo, Aklan. Now, Major Gelacio Guarino serves as the ARC Consultant.
The Infant Jesus Academy Kalibo Family Council (IJAKFC) visited the Aklan Rehabilitation Center at Nalook, Kalibo, Aklan on November 16, 2010. It visited the ARC to do a need assessment for the forthcoming Handog Pamasko scheduled on December 17, 2010.
REHABILITATION OF PRISONERS
To their surprised, the visit opened their eyes to the real situation of the ARC and the detainees. From their observation and interview, the group came up with the following observations.
1. They need immediate medical attention and medicines for common illnesses. First Aid Kit visible either in the office or in the cells are not available.
2. From 57 inmates in 2004, today there are 239 or 417 percent increase for five years. Of this number, 18 are females. The nine (9) cells and two (2) other cells (with mental illness) are poorly ventilated and inadequate for the inmates to breathe.
3. Cell 3 and 4 are leaking. PVC pipe needs repair and new toilet bowl is urgently needed for Cell 8.
4. No vehicle in time of emergency. Prison guards use motorcycle during emergency and in going to the courts to attend hearings.
5. Meals of less nutritional value are being served.
6. No library or reading materials for information and leisure.
7. Compliance to NO SMOKING rule is not implemented which is detrimental to the health of detainees who are diagnosed with Asthma and other related illness.
To effect a better system of jail management, for the safe keeping and rehabilitation of persons in conflict with the law under the direction, supervision and control of the Provincial Governor as Chief Jailer, they must be provided with the basic human needs.
How long would it take for a Warden to carry on and implement the ARC mission, vision and objectives? For some inmates who told stories about coping up with their life inside the ARC, the mental illnesses are rooted out of no love from the family members who abandoned them. The services the ARC is offering are not enough to alleviate their conditions.
A custody sergeant ensured cells are clean and as germ-free as possible in accordance with the Human Rights Act. Any inmate can spread a disease to a more or less 40 inmates in 48 square meter room or 1.2 square meter per inmate. This is congestion. At present, the detention facility is so filthy and so crowded like sardines for 239 detainees.
Section 10 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders directs that all accommodations provided for the use of prisoners, particularly all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation. This also includes adequate sanitary installations to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature necessary in a clean and decent manner. All parts of the institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times, even including the provision of clean water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness.
On the health concerns, a medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should DAILY see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed. It will be treated that (1) The medical officer shall regularly inspect and advise the director upon: ( a ) The quantity, quality, preparation and service of food; ( b ) The hygiene and cleanliness of the institution and the prisoners; ( c ) The sanitation, heating, lighting and ventilation of the ARC; ( d ) The suitability and cleanliness of the prisoners’ clothing and bedding; ( e ) The observance of the rules concerning physical education and sports.
On Education and recreation, (1) Provision shall be made for the further education of all prisoners capable of profiting thereby, including religious instruction. The education of illiterates and young prisoners shall be compulsory and special attention shall be paid to it by the administration. (2) If practicable, the education of prisoners shall be integrated with the educational system of the country so that after their release they may continue their education without difficulty.
These and many more concerns of the ARC are being neglected by the officer appointed, elected and or on duty. The detainees may have offended and broken the law, but they deserve rehabilitation and human treatment. When proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, they must serve their penalty.
A vigorous objection from one bystander who asked, "Why visit them? They deserve to be there; let them suffer for their crimes." But, we believe the other way. We live by a Christian attitude. Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD stated that "Christian attitude is: Despite their crimes, they are still children of God and Christians have the duty to reach out to them. This had always been the attitude and example of the Lord, I have come for sinners, not the just. It’s the sick who need the physician."
Reaching out to prisoners is not easy. Because of this, we admire those who make the sacrifice of working in this apostolate, whether by choice or duty, like the CWL, NGOs, the academe, catechists, chaplains, wardens, and guards. Not only during Christmas season that we asked you to offer a moment of prayers for our prisoners and the needy, but we should also remember them every time we are in the moment of luxury, good life and fun. /MP