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Prison ministry appeals aid for Leyte jail fire victims

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MANILA, Oct. 10, 2015— The Catholic Church’s prison ministry is seeking aid for victims of a fire incident that razed the regional prison facility in Leyte province last Thursday.

Photo shows what is left of the Leyte regional prison facility after the first fire incident that struck it in 2013.

The Oct. 8 inferno at the maximum security compound of the Leyte penal colony in Abuyog town killed at least 10 inmates and hurt several others, according to local police.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said around 1,200 inmates were affected by the incident and are currently staying with those in the minimum security compound.

“We appeal to our volunteers and chaplains nationwide to send help. It’s really sad that it happened,” Diamante said.

“We are mobilizing our 86 units of volunteers to lend a helping hand… preferably to give their aid in cash and send it to our local chapter in Leyte so they will just buy all the things needed there,” he said.

He said the inmates urgently need clothes, cookware, kitchen utensils, sleeping mats and blankets.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined but the apparent congestion at the facility has been a source of worry of the prison ministry.

Diamante said the only way out of the problem is to ensure a reform of the country’s justice system and to improve jail facilities across the country.

He also renewed his call on government to abandon its plan to build a P50-billion “mega prison” project in Nueva Ecija, saying the money could be used to improve regional prisons.

“The problem is really about overloading and weak maintenance of prison facilities,” Diamante said.

The Leyte penal colony was already struck by fire in May 2013, destroying the facility’s biggest dorm, Spiritual Center and clinic.

“Unfortunately, the Spirituality Center, which was repaired with the help of the Archdiocese of Palo, is destroyed again,” Diamante added. (CBCPNews)


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