Contraband seized from priest officiating mass in Bohol jail
BOHOL, Philippines – Authorities on Sunday, November 26, confiscated several packs of cigarettes and dried tobacco leaves from a priest who was supposed to officiate mass at a jail facility here.
Warden Felipe Montejo of the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center (BDRC) confirmed with Rappler Monday, November 27, that the contraband was seized at around 10 am from Father James Darunday, who ministers to about 900 inmates on Sundays.
Reports said Darunday was carrying a plastic container handed to him by a parish member, whose husband, identified as Rey Gaco, is an inmate at BDRC.
When jail guards inspected the container, they found at least 50 packs of a popular brand of cigarettes and several unprocessed tobacco leaves all buried beneath the "assorted biscuits."
Darunday in a phone interview with Rappler Monday said he believed the container only had biscuits inside, as assured by the woman, whose face he said appears familiar to him.
He said he could not remember the woman's name, but he knows she is from Calape town, Bohol.
"I was too trusting. I agreed to carry the container out of compassion, believing it [contained] just biscuits," Darunday said in Bisaya.
"It could have been worse if there were illegal drugs. Thank God, there were no drugs in it," he told Rappler.
Darunday, a former navy chaplain, has been ministering for over 7 years at BDRC, run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
At times, Darunday, moved after seeing that food ration was insufficient, would bring food and snacks to inmates at his expense, or from donors.
But that might change starting Monday, as BDRC's Montejo hinted at banning the priest from officiating mass at the facility again.
"I would respect their decision if they would ban me. I just hope that another priest would look after the spiritual lives of the inmates," Darunday told Rappler.
"God knows I was innocent. I did it out of good motive. It was unfortunate this had happened," the priest added.
BDRC prohibits smoking and the possession of tobacco products inside the jail building.
Last week, a surprise police inspection at BDRC yielded packs of shabu, mobile phones, bladed weapons, and some illegal drug paraphernalia. – Rappler.com