Batangas City Jail now 342% congested as inmates move in to flee erupting Taal
BATANGAS, Philippines – At least 53 prisoners from the Lemery Municipal Jail were transferred to the Batangas City Jail amid the Taal Volcano eruption, bringing the city jail's congestion rate to 342%.
In an interview with Rappler, Jail Chief Inspector Glenn Sianquita said that 49 male persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and 4 women PDLs were brought to the Batangas City Jail at around 2 am Monday, January 13.
Lemery is roughly 13 kilometers away from the Taal Volcano. It is one of the 11 towns in Batangas that are on total lockdown.
"'Di naman maitatanggi na nadagdagan 'yung congestion rate. Nauunawaan naman ng mga PDL ng Batangas City Jail na necessary na magkaroon ng konting sacrifice," Sianquita told Rappler.
(It can't be denied that the congestion rate increased. The PDLs of the Batangas City Jail understand that it's necessary to sacrifice a bit.)
Sianquita said that when the PDLs arrived, only a few were able to bring clothes and toiletries.
"Kahit mga PDL ng Batangas [City Jail], 'yung iba, sila na mismo nagpahiram ng damit kasi hindi naman agad nakakuha ng damit 'yung iba," Sianquita said, adding that private individuals also provided for the PDLs' toiletries.
(Even the PDLs of the Batangas City Jail, some of them lent their clothes since those from Lemery weren't able to get clothes.)
The Batangas City jail chief said that food is not a problem, but he acknowledged that Lemery prisoners would have to endure the limited space allotted to them.
All of the 49 male PDLs were squeezed into one cell, bringing the total inmates inside the room to 52. Sianquita said that the cell is only for 15 people, but each room in the city jail averages to about 40 people.
Sianquita also said that there's a possibility for the transferred inmates to extend their stay in the Batangas City Jail, as the municipal prison in Lemery sustained infrastructure damage due to earthquakes that have occurred since the eruption began.
"Sa tingin ko po kahit makabalik 'yung civilian sa area, baka maiwan lang sila dito kasi walang paglalagyan. Ang pinag-aalala nila ay 'yung mga kamag-anak nila na kasama mga evacuees," the warden said.
(I think even after the civilians return to the area, the prisoners may have to stay here because they don't have a prison to go back to. What they are worried about is their relatives who are with other evacuees.)
Only Lemery prisoners had to be transferred, as the jail in Lipa City is in an area outside the danger zone.
The Taal Volcano has been under Alert Level 4 for over a week already, with state volcanologists strongly urging people to stay out of the danger zone.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reiterated that scientific data indicate the possibility of a major explosion possible "within hours to days." (READ: Taal Volcano's 2020 eruption: What we know so far)
The provinces of Batangas and Cavite had already declared a state of calamity. – Rappler.com