‘Possessed’? 8 female inmates hysterical
WERE they possessed or just depressed?
Eight female inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) became hysterical inside their cells yesterday.
Their fellow inmates believed they were “possessed” and jail management called for a priest. The inmates reportedly calmed down at around 6:30 p.m. yesterday, after the priest intervened.
Dr. Christina Giango, CPDRC in-house doctor, said it is not scientifically possible that the inmates were possessed.
She linked their violent behavior to excess carbon dioxide (CO2) in the body or, in Cebuano, “kabuhi.”
Two inmates, who first went into a fit at 3 a.m. yesterday, were made to breathe into paper bags until they calmed down. But they became hysterical again at past 5 p.m. yesterday along with five others. Three more joined the frenzy about an hour later.
Provincial jail consultant Marco Toral said it was the first time that such an incident occurred inside the prison.
He ruled out the possibility that it may have been caused by overcrowding in the facility. He said there are 10 jail cells for female inmates. Each can accommodate 12 detainees.
“Sixteen is not overcrowded,” Toral said, referring to the number of occupants in one cell.
There are over 4,300 inmates at the provincial jail. Around 100 are female.
Toral quoted Giango as saying that the behavior of the affected inmates were triggered by a “depression-induced hormone.”
When in excess, Toral said this hormone triggers the symptoms exhibited by the inmates.
Prison Mayor Lito Granada, in a telephone interview with Cebu Daily News, said it took five male inmates to pin down one hysterical detainee.
“They kept shouting expletives. They would throw whatever they get hold of. We tried to get crosses, images of Mary, and rosaries but they swatted them away,” Granada said in Cebuano.
“Moingon sila ‘pugngi ko kay naay mokuha namo.’ Demonyo man tingali (They would say, ‘restrain us because somebody is trying to get us.’ It must be a demon),” he said.
The two inmates who first went into a fit were brought in for alleged involvement in illegal drug activities.
One of them has been in jail for one year and three months while the other has only been in jail for two months.
The other six went berserk in the afternoon.
Granada said the inmates do not belong to one cell.
Inmate Renante Barbero, a trustee, said he found the first two female detainees flailing on the ground and screaming when he came to check on them earlier.
“Nagtuo ko nga giatake ra. Pero lahi na man ang purma. Ilang kamot, nangusog. Ilang lawas, nag igwad-igwad ug ilang tingog nag usab-usab. Ang usa mura og lalaki, ang usa mura og mananap,” he told CDN.
(I thought they were only having a heart attack. But they looked different. Their hands were stiff. Their bodies were shaking. Their voices were different. One of them sounded like a man’s, the other one sounded like an animal.)
Barbero, being the keeper of the jail keys, had the opportunity to open the female inmates’ cell to usher in help.
There, he saw how the two detainees acted. According to him, one of the two tried to scratch the others.
“Nanimbawot gyud akong balhibo (I got goosebumps),” he said. Toral received a distress call from the jail’s desk officer at around 4 a.m. and witnessed the frenzy.
“Nakusgan man sila og maayo. Mura og na-ungo ang mata, mura og layo ang tinan-awan, isog kaayo. Nagsiyagit-siyagit sila pero dili masabtan ilang gipangsulti,” he told CDN.
(It seemed like they gained strength. Their eyes looked devilish and they were looking far away. They were shouting something but I couldn’t tell what they were saying.)
“Giampoan sila sa ilang mga kauban. Gibutangan og asin. Gisuotan og rosaryohan pero naputol ra og iyaha,” he said.
(They were prayed over. The others threw salt at them. Rosaries were even placed around their necks but these mysteriously broke.)
Toral said that the two inmates eventually calmed down. They were not transferred to another cell.
At around 6 a.m., they started behaving violently again. Then they fainted.
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