Inmates of the Davao City jail gave up their stash of biscuits and coffee to help fill up a community pantry for their fellows who are struggling during this pandemic, a prison official said Monday.
Edo Lobenia, spokesman of the city's bureau of jail, said he explained the viral community pantry initiative to the inmates, who readily gave up their own food. Touched by the gesture, he walked away because he was tearing up.
"Nakakataba ng puso na may mga ilang mga PDL na gusto rin tulungan yung kapwa nilang bilanggo. Biglang hinipo ang puso ko at nagkunwari na kakain muna ako ng agahan. Ang totoo nito ako ay umalis dahil hindi ko mapigalan ang tulo ng mga luha ko," Lobenia shared in a Facebook post.
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After securing permission from the warden, Lobenia said he used funds donated to Second Chance Philippines, a group advocating for the rights of inmates that he also heads, to put up the pantry. He also got the help of other prison staff.
"Napakahirap kasi ng buhay ngayong pandemya lalo na pag ikaw ay nasa loob ng kulungan at tila ba'y walang nakakaalala sayo dahil wala man lang nagpapadala sayo ng pagkain. Mahirap ang buhay ng isang bilanggo. Nagsisiksan na para bang mga sardinas dahil sa kakulangan ng espasyo," said Lobenia.
Inmates are among the most vulnerable to outbreaks during the pandemic, as the tight space behind bars leaves no room for social distancing. Reformative justice advocates have repeatedly urged government to improve medical system in jails, emphasizing how prisoners are humans, too—deserving of proper access to medicine and COVID-19 testing.