Inmates at an overcrowded prison in the Philippines took to the roof to protest with raised fists and banners, saying they are not well fed and demanding the warden’s removal, officials said.
The warden was suspended immediately after the noisy demonstration by about 100 prisoners, which ended peacefully as they dispersed Wednesday morning and were taken back to their cells in Pototan, Iloilo.
They face an investigation and possible disciplinary action, officials added.
Footage of the rare protest, which showed inmates on the roof of a building outside the prison gate, where journalists later gathered, was posted on Facebook and quickly attracted attention in a country with some of the most congested prisons in the world.
A banner read: “We’re hungry, warden come out.”
“They really drew attention,” Bureau of Prison Management and Penology spokesman Xavier Solda told The Associated Press, adding that the prisoners, who included suspected communist guerrillas and drug offenders, they escaped morning prayers and physical exercise in the sun and used a ledge. to climb onto the roof in a secretly planned protest.
A handwritten note released by the inmates accused the authorities of serving them inadequate meals and confiscating food brought by relatives to force them to buy meals from the prison store.
Shards of glass had been found in portions of rice and served rotten fish, according to the memo.
Prison officials denied the allegations, which appeared on local news, saying inmates were given three meals a day and no complaints were made until the protest.
Solda said a standard budget of 70 pesos (£1.06) is allocated for daily meals for each of the more than 1,100 inmates, including the costs of cooking gas, and said officials were always looking for ways to improve conditions in nearly 500 prisons. all over the country
“We will not dismiss their concerns just because they are PDL,” Solda said, using the acronym for “persons deprived of liberty.”
“If your concern is food, we will definitely look into it and if there is a problem, we will look for solutions.”
The warden the inmates complained about was temporarily relieved for an investigation and replaced by an officer who recently won an award as one of the nation’s top prison administrators and would be acceptable to inmates, he said.
Some of the inmates had objected to being moved to a new, larger prison building, where the protest was held, from an older and congested detention center apparently due to tighter security, Solda said .
Prisons in the Philippines are nearly four times their capacity with an overcrowding rate of 390 percent, which is an improvement from 600 percent a few years ago, he said, adding that officials are continuing a program to build more facilities of detention to relieve congestion. .