City Hall, CHR probe torture issue, food at Cebu City Jail

ACTING on an inmate’s allegation that he was tortured inside the Cebu City Jail, Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chief investigator Leo Villarino inspected the jail yesterday.

They interviewed inmate Marvin Gimpeso and checked his wounds, but they did not see any indication that he was tortured or maltreated in any way.

“All I can say is that the injuries he showed us, his scratches, he said he got them in the process of his escape. What he was saying was consistent with his wounds. We did not see any bruise that we can say came from being beaten up or physically abused. We did not see that,” Villarino told reporters yesterday.

He said that Gimpeso disclosed other complaints, which he said they will validate.

“We won’t say what they are, but I have to talk to the team and we will decide, with Councilor Tumulak’s input, if a formal investigation should be conducted or not,” he added.

Tumulak and the team from CHR went to the city jail yesterday morning to check the allegations of Gimpeso that he was tortured inside the jail and the food served to the inmates is not well prepared, among other concerns.

In an interview with reporters last Tuesday, Gimpeso said he was tortured after he was accused of escaping from the facility when he was just sleeping. He did not specify who tortured him.

He said that because of the incident, he decided to escape from the jail last Monday, but authorities were able to locate and arrest him.

Tumulak said they also verified the cause of the noise barrage initiated by the inmates Tuesday night, which was reportedly due to the suspension of visitation rights following Gimpeso’s escape.

Tumulak said Jail Warden Arnel Peralta has yet to give an explanation on the incident since the matter is still being investigated.

While he understands the predicament of inmates who fear for their safety, Villarino said they cannot do anything about the inmates’ concerns if these are not reported to them.

He urged visitors who know of inmates with complaints of being maltreated and physically abused to immediately ask the detainee to put their complaint in writing and submit the complaint to CHR for documentation and validation.

As for the food, the councilor said: “We went to check the food inside the jail but found out that the preparation was okay.”

Villarino agreed with Tumulak on the quality of the food, and said inmates cannot expect food inside the jail to be comparable to food that can be bought outside, given the jail management’s limited budget.

At present, each inmate has an allocation of P60 per day for food, or P20 per meal.

When sought for comment on the situation at the city jail, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the City will not subsidize the inmates’ food.

“I don’t think it’s important for me to react. If I have to pay attention to these things, I have nothing else to do. I’ve got so many things to do. I don’t like these people anyway, they’re law breakers,” he said.

He recalled that during his previous term, the City’s food subsidy for the city jail was stopped after the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology refused to have it audited. (RVC/TLN)
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