Cebu inmates dance to thank Pope

CEBU. More than 2,000 inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center perform a dance that they want to offer to Pope Francis. (Amper Campaña)

CEBU CITY -- A former trisikad driver has been in jail for 14 years although the murder case filed against him remains pending in court.

Alberto Vergara’s stay in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) is equivalent to the penalty of reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment for a person convicted of murder. The maximum penalty for a murder convict is 20 years.

Vergara, 67, continues to hope that he will one day see his eight kids, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

This gave him the strength to practice for hours to perfect a dance tha 2,159 inmates of the provincial jail performed Friday as prayer offering to Pope Francis.

At one point during their performance, the inmates in their orange uniform formed a cross and unfurled an image of Pope Francis. The inmates were unmindful of the drizzle as they danced to a Gregorian chant and Jamie Rivera's “We are All God's Children.”

Capitol officials and the rest of the audience cheered when the performance ended.

The oldest inmate, aged 84, was not able to join because he was down with fever.

Vince Rosales, the inmates’ choreographer, said the dance is meant to express gratitude to Pope Francis for visiting the country. He said the inmates will dance again on January 15.

“Ang amoa mohalad gyud mi og sayaw niya (We will offer him a dance),” he said.

Rosales said that he believes the pope's visit will inspire the inmates to do good. “Dili baya tanan makasasa diri (Not all inmates are sinners),” he said.

Marco Toral, Capitol consultant on jail matters, said the inmates prepared for two days.

In another development, Toral said about 35 convicted CPDRC inmates, including drug manufacturer Calvin de Jesus Tan, will be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa on January 23. (KAL/Sun.Star Cebu)
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