Social welfare officers, law students tapped to help depressed inmates

By: Melissa Q. Cabahug, Victor Anthony V. Silva April 15,2015 - 11:37 AM

The Provincial Health Office said it cannot provide any psychologist to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) to conduct sessions with inmates suffering from depression.

“We have programs for mental health support but this is community-based and came about in the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda,” Provincial Health Officer Cynthia Genosolango said.

Provincial Jail Consultant Marco Toral sought help from the Provincial Health Office to check on the inmates in the wake of the suicide of Australian inmate Hilton Reece Munro last Saturday.

READ: Former Aussie teacher accused of child trafficking found dead inside Cebu jail

Genosolango said rural midwives, barangay health workers and nurses were trained to provide counseling in the communities.

She said social workers are better equipped to handle psychosocial support.

“I will still have to check with the social welfare office and with our rural social welfare officers whether they are capable,” Genosolango said.

Toral said the CPDRC needs more paralegal officers than psychologists because the inmates need to know updates on their cases to give them something to hope for.

READ: After death of Aussie accused of child sex crime, taxi driver has ‘no lawyer’

Toral said his son, an incoming fourth year law student at the University of San Carlos (USC) together with his classmates visited the jail to review some of the cases of the inmates.

Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera, who spoke with Toral yesterday morning, said the visit will somehow serve as “on the job training” for law students.

Natera said Munro’s parents decided to cremate his remains which lie at the Rolling Hills Funeral Homes in Banilad.

Natera said  the provincial government is in contact with the Australian Embassy in Manila and the consulate here in Cebu on how to deal with Munro’s cremation and transfer of ashes to Australia.

For her part, Provincial Board (PB) Member Ivy Remedios Durano-Meca pushed for the installation of security cameras in the police precincts and cells to prevent suicides.

She said Munro’s suicide is a grim reminder of how suicide can occur behind bars.

“With the cameras we could see what really happened from the very start,” Meca said.

She said Toral earlier told her that illegal drugs continue to thrive in the CPDRC due to the absence of security cameras.

“We’re not only talking about law enforcement here but security cameras can also protect inmates (from abuses committed by jail guards),” Meca said.

An initial budget of P1 million is included in the draft ordinance for the purchase of CCTV cameras.

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