Asturias flies, jail’s shabu trade

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Friday, August 1, 2014


MY FRIEND Tony, who is from Carcar, used to stay in what was literally a hut on a hill above what is now the Ecotech Center in Sudlon, Barangay Lahug. That was when he was studying in the nearby agricultural school, which in the ‘90s was transferred by then governor Pablo Garcia to the mid-western town of Barili to become the Cebu Technological University (CTU)-Barili Campus.

The barkada would often visit Tony, now a ranking agrarian reform official in the region, for some idle talk and drinks. I remember going home drunk one night and vomiting in the middle of the bridge spanning the Lahug river. Once, we surveyed a Japanese-era tunnel above Gochan Hills some 100 meters away, using kerosene lamps that blackened the insides of our noses with soot.

But staying in the hut was often a sacrifice. Tony would light a lamp even at daytime to drive away the flies that seemingly took over his hut. When we ate, one of your hands had to be busy driving away the marauders. You couldn’t leave the food alone without the flies landing on them. The place was dotted with poultry coops, projects of the agriculture students like Tony.

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That’s why I can relate with the people in Barangays Agtugop, New Bago, Bago, Lunas, Looc, Langub and Poblacion in Asturias town who are complaining about the flies that have “besieged” their place. It’s difficult, although I think sleeping at night in a
forested area full of mosquitoes and “tagnok” is worse. But that’s another story.

***

I don’t find the recent claim of a certain Jocelyn Correa that she got the illegal drugs she was selling from the Cebu Provincial Detention Center (CPDRC) as out of this world. I say the public thinks the same way, too. And it might not only be CPDRC inmates that are doing this.

When I was jailed at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) in the eighties, marijuana was openly sold and used inside. That was the time when marijuana and not shabu was the dominant illegal substance of choice by addicts. Two mahjong tables were even set up in the jail’s lobby. It was a no-brainer as to who ran the show there.

A relative, a teenager, was once arrested for peddling shabu in one of Cebu City’s barangays years ago. Inside the BBRC, he was taken good care by an inmate, our neighbor, who was in jail after he was arrested for drug pushing. There were stories that the said neighbor was somehow able to ply his trade inside the jail using his contacts from outside.

I had no way of confirming that, but there must have been truth to those stories because the neighbor seemed to be still awash with money.

The biggest surprise for me was when somebody told me a few years ago that my friend who was jailed for murder and who had been detained for several years already had somehow found a way to make money inside. No, he didn’t make miniatures of ships placed inside empty bottles and sold outside. They said he learned to make money by other means.

That story struck me because of the irony. Under normal circumstance, inmates are very dependent on their relatives outside for money and other supplies. In the case of that friend, so the story goes, he was the one providing money to his family.

Of course, more surreal things have happened in our jails in the past. Remember the report in the ‘80s about BBRC inmates being allowed to go out and rob people or kill for a fee allegedly by the warden who profited from the arrangement? As long as there are corrupt jailers (like there are always corrupt politicians), things that aren’t supposed to happen inside detention centers do happen.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 02, 2014.

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