No more room in Cebu prison of dancing inmates
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Cebu prison famous for its dancing inmates officially acknowledges that it is overcrowded, housing more than double its capacity.
Romeo Manansala, the warden of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), sent a memo to the provincial police office that there is no more space for new inmates: "The current jail population is at 3,008, which is beyond the capacity of 1,500."
Because of the prison's overcrowding, 10 inmates died in less than two months, with most of them suffering cardiac arrest brought about by pneumonia.
Without giving an estimate, Director Jose Macanas told Rappler in a phone interview that the province has seen a dramatic increase in the number of arrests since last May.
This was the month when President Rodrigo Duterte had won the election and vowed a "bloody" war against drugs. "We foresee that it will be a problem," Macanas said. (READ: Duterte in Cebu: Drug users, pushers will 'surely be killed')
He added, "For now, we'll have to keep them housed in the municipal jails until the cases of those in the CPDRC are resolved."
"Another option would be to ask prisons in other provinces to take inmates," he said. But Macanas said he would meet with the provincial government first before making any long-term decisions.
The jail became world-famous in 2006 for its dancing programs as a form of rehabilitation. Their video dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" has over 50 million views to date.
But the detention and rehabilitation center has been in hot water over several controversies.
On July 26, one inmate, posing as a guest, escaped. On July 28, jail consultant Marco Toral, a former inmate himself, fired a warning shot using a blank cartridge when he caught inmates gambling. Opening fire in a non-life threatening situation, even with a blank cartridge, is considered a violation of prison rules.
Sun.Star Superbalita reported on August 4 that a laptop and cell phones were confiscated from female inmate Eileen Ontong, who is serving time for human trafficking charges. Investigators suspect she and her German husband Thomas Ruhland continued their cyberporn activities from behind bars.
The provincial board called on Manansala and Toral to explain the violations, but Toral resigned before any hearings were held. (READ: Consultant quits Cebu jail famous for dancing inmates)
On August 12, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III took over as acting warden while several prison personnel, including Manansala, are being investigated.
Manansala will continue to work at the CPDRC, but under Davide's supervision. – Rappler.com