Two inmates were killed while 17 others were wounded, seven of them in critical condition, when a riot broke out between two warring groups at the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, Tuesday night.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) spokesman Senior Inspector Xavier Solda said the clash between members of the “Bahala Na Gang” and “Sigue-Sigue Sputnik Gang” occurred at around 6:50 p.m.
In a text message, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) director Serafin Baretto identified the slain inmates as Lucky Natividad, member of Bahala na Gang, and Gerald Tolentino, member of Sigue-Sigue Sputnik Gang. Both sustained “several stab wounds in the body.”
Solda said the fiasco started when members of both gangs traded tirades and began heckling each other during a noise barrage they held to protest the five-day electricity interruption at the prison.
At present, Solda said the BJMP is conducting investigation to determine the factors that triggered the riot.
Baretto, in a separate interview, however, said the absence or lack of electricity in the detention facility could have caused the tension among the inmates.
Solda said there was a power failure inside the MMDJ after an electrical post fell down, destroying the transformer and snapping the electrical lines at the height of heavy rains on May 30.
Barreto disclosed that they have been using generator since the power outage.
“‘Yun talaga (focus of investigation), kasi magkalabang gang ‘yan tapos mainit at nag-aagawan sa bentilador. Mga isang linggo nang walang kuryente dahil sira ang transformer kaya nag-riot sila,” Baretto said.
Baretto added they have yet to pay P500,000 to Manila Electric Company (Meralco) for repairing the transformer previously.
“Matagal nang pinagawa ‘yan sa Meralco dahil nasira kaso ‘di pa nabayaran. So ngayon, nasira ulit hindi pa napapagawa dahil ‘di pa nabayaran ‘yung una,” Barreto disclosed.
He also said they have yet to identify the persons who stabbed and killed the two inmates, as well as the weapon used against them.
“Hindi pa malinaw kung sino nakasaksak at anong ginamit kasi wala namang BJMP personnel sa loob noong mangyari ‘yun pero ang aamin dyan, ‘yong mga nasa loob ng selda. Ang problema lang kapag hindi sila umamin, hindi nila ituro,” he added.
The BJMP said a number of “high risk” inmates, including political prisoners, are detained at the MMDJ.
The Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) has slammed the BJMP for failing to restore the power supply at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) jail of the camp.
“We have been told that there has been no electricity at the SICA 1 building since May 30 (Tuesday), meaning that the political prisoners there have been suffering from the blackout for one week,” said Selda chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez in a letter sent to the SICA 1 warden.
Selda called the power outage “inhumane” and a form of “deliberate punishment” for political prisoners, some of whom are ailing and elderly.
“Basic utilities like water and electricity remain the basic rights of prisoners, including political prisoners.
These should be ensured by the jail administrator and the warden. To allow this (power outage) to last for a week is deplorable, a gross negligence and is tantamount to ‘inhumane treatment.’ The jail management is punishing the prisoners as a result of their inefficiency and lack of compassion for the detainees,” she added.
(CHITO A. CHAVEZ & MARTIN A. SADONGDONG)