AT least 11 inmates of the Mandaue City Jail (MCJ) tied the knot inside the facility yesterday morning.

Mayor Gabriel Luis Quisumbing solemnized the marriage between the male inmates and their partners at the male dormitory grounds.

JO2 Blanche Aliño, community relations service officer of the MCJ, said that the Junior Chamber International (JCI) WoMandaue partnered with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Mandaue for the activity.

The wedding ceremony was held with a theme “Love Beyond Prison Walls.”

Aliño, who is also the secretary general of JCI WoMandaue, explained that JCI National has a Beyond Prison Wall project, which provides support to the inmates in the different jails.

JCI thought of organizing the wedding of the MCJ inmates in line with the project.

JCI WoMandaue tapped wedding suppliers, wedding organizers, videographers and photographers for the event.

“We have inmates that have long been living together with their partners when they were not yet detained and they really want to get married,” said Aliño.

The 11 male inmates are facing different cases. The youngest inmate was 26 years old while the oldest was 40 years old.

They qualified during the selection process and availed themselves of the free wedding.

Rio (not his real name), 29, thanked his partner, Sam (not her real name) for marrying him despite the odds.

Rio, a resident of Lapu-Lapu City, has been in the facility for seven years after he was charged with murder.

Rio said his friend committed the crime, but he was also arrested since he was in the area.

Rio and his partner were already together for two years when he was detained.

At first, Sam did not know why Rio stopped communicating with her when she left Cebu at that time.

Sam, who is now a call center agent, said she learned, after four years, that Rio was detained when she had a talk with his mother.

Rio and Sam decided to continue their relationship.

“I am very thankful that she has been faithful to me,” Rio said in Cebuano.

Quisumbing hoped that the 11 inmates will find balance and purpose in their lives now that they are married.

“Now that they have their families of their own and they are married, hopefully they will find balance. Hopefully, it will help them find clarity, help them prioritize and remember what is most important in life, which is love and family. Hopefully, when the time comes for them to leave the jail, they will be ready to show the whole world that they are fully rehabilitated and ready to assume their lives as members of a family,” he said.

JCI WoMandaue plans to have a free wedding ceremony for the inmates in MCJ and in other jail facilities in Cebu yearly. (FMG)