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Four detainees at the overcrowded Batasan police station have died in a span of 11 days, prompting authorities to send hundreds to the covered court in Camp Karingal in Quezon City last Tuesday.
Three of the fatalities faced drug charges while another was arrested for grave threat and illegal possession of a deadly weapon.
The drug suspects were Michael Montano, 42; Jerson Dimaano, 27, and Benedict Amores, 31. The other fatality was Benedict Amores, 31.
They failed to survive a month of incarceration at the station’s three holding cells which, at one point, hosted more than 200 detainees.
Police said the cells, each measuring 30 square meters, can only accommodate 90.
Because the detainees are confined in window-less rooms with three exhaust fans providing ventilation, skin diseases, particularly boils, are widespread in the lock-up cells.
Of the 162 brought to Camp Karingal on the request of police station chief Lito Patay, only five were free from skin rashes and diseases, according to Supt. Ophelia Mangrobang, a doctor and chief of the QCPD District Health Service (DHS).
Mangrobang attributed the spread of the diseases to the congestion at the Batasan police station.
She also noted that only a single comfort room is shared by male and female detainees.
If there are 150 detainees, it means that each occupant has less than 10 minutes a day to take a bath and use the toilet — that is, if water is available 24/7.
After inspection, Mangrobang, declared that the station cells are “not fit for human confinement” and this “unhealthy and congested condition” have contributed to the inmates’ illnesses.
“It is highly recommended that the detention cell of Station 6 be fully disinfected and desensitized the soonest possible time,” she added.
The transfer of hundreds of male detainees to Camp Karingal has provided relief to those who were left behind.
It won’t take long, however, before the cells would again be bursting from the seams due to the relentless crackdown against illegal drugs.
Chief Insp. Titoy Cuden, chief of the QCPD Public Information Office, explained that the detainees are temporarily being held in police stations as they wait for court decisions that could commit them to penal facilities.
“Moving them here in Camp Karingal is most humanitarian solution we can do for the detainees, because, of course we can’t release them,”
While the government figures out how to address the congestion, Cuden said they provided the infected detainees medicines and kits to prevent their diseases from getting worse.
The detainees were also lectured about maintaining hygiene which appears to be unattainable given the atrocious conditions at the cells. (VANNE TERRAZOLA)