‘REST, PRAYERS FOR INMATES’

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Melissa Q. Cabahug June 09,2015 - 11:31 PM
A female inmate reads the Bible inide her cell. About 11 female inmates and one male inmate exhibited violent behavior for still unexplained reasons since last monday.(CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

A female inmate reads the Bible inside her cell. About 11 female inmates and one male inmate exhibited violent behavior for still unexplained reasons since last monday.(CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

Twelve inmates resting after violent behavior;  Church says  ‘no proof’ of demonic possession

A spokesman of the Cebu Archdiocese said several factors have to be looked into before calling the strange conduct of a dozen inmates in the Cebu provincial jail a case of demonic possession.

Msgr. Joseph Tan, media liaison officer, said there may be “human reasons” to explain why the affected prisoners, mostly women, became hysterical in their cells starting Monday afternoon.

He cautioned against drawing a hasty conclusion that what happened is a supernatural event.

“We need to study the circumstances at hand and collaborate with doctors and psychologists. We need to find out the history of these affected inmates, whether or not they have mental illness or a history of illegal drug use. There are many factors that we need to considered,” he told radio dyAB.

All except one of the 12 affected inmates are women and stay in different cells in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).

Women account for only 100 in the total prison population  of 4,300.

The episode quieted down yesterday.

As of 11 a.m, only one female aged 23 was still acting “possessed” according to Provincial Jail Consultant Marco Toral.  She was placed inside  the prison’s chapel.

A team from the Provincial Health Office visited the detainees in the morning and will submit a report of their findings soon.

Toral said he was waiting for Fr. Rey Cui, assistant parish priest of Capitol parish, to revisit the inmates after the cleric performed a cleansing rite in the jail Monday evening.

He said Fr. Cui believed that the 12 inmates whose ages range from 19 to 41 were “possessed” by spirits.

After the first episode occurred Monday, affecting eight women, three other women and one male boxer, also went into violent fits.

They would shout aloud, and speak in strange voices with their limbs shaking, and stiffening.  Some showed unusual strength.  It took five male inmates to pin down one hysterical woman.

JUST PRAY

Msgr. Tan of the Cebu Archdiocese advised the inmates and their families “to pray”.

“Reports that inmates are being possessed by evil spirits should not be believed right away. There has to be an investigation conducted by the Catholic Church first.  In the mind of the Church, supernatural things should come last. We need to first consider all possible human reasons. If we find none, then that must be a supernatural incident. I urge the families of these inmates to pray. They also have to coordinate with Fr. (Cresenciano) Ubod of the Cebu Archdiocesan Prison Apostolate for investigation.”

Nurse Glenn Tirado of the PHO said the strange behavior appeared to be a sign of hallucination and that it could have been triggered by the recurrence of a previous personal problem.

He said the inmates may be brooding over a problem or disturbed by personal troubles, and just need to rest. No medication was given to the inmates by the PHO staff.

The PHO team visited the inmates in their cells. Each cell where an affected female inmate stayed was occupied by 15 women.  The ideal occupancy is 12.

‘HAUNTED’ LOT

Toral likely  believes that the inmates were victims of demon possession, saying he had seen similar cases before.

His immediate concern was to have the CPDRC cells blessed by a priest.

According to Toral, the location of the jail was a vacant lot which he suspects was a site where bodies were dumped.

Is the place haunted?

Timoteo Lucero, a former inmate who stayed in the CPDRC for 11 years, said he believes that spirits of the dead roam inside the prison facility.

He recalled that last month while he was lying down on the chairs at 3 a.m. he saw the reflection of a man wearing a white sando shirt passing down the hallway.

Toral also shared his experience of hearing knocks on the door late at night while he was sleeping in the office.  When he’d ask the staff and inmates, none of them knew who did it.

‘HALLUCINATION’

Toral said the abnormal behavior of the inmates started at around 2 p.m. of Monday.

He said the first inmate, a 34-year-old woman, starting shouting that her husband had to return a crab he found inside a cave in Sogod town, north Cebu.

He said the inmate has been detained for a year and four months and is facing drug charges.

Toral said the husband has been gathering crabs in the cave and that the  back of one particular crab had strange markings connected with a supernatural spell.

“Ang gusto kuno ipauli kuno ngadto sa langob, kani nga coconut crab (What the spirit was asking was to return the coconut crab in the cave),” he added.

But the crab could no longer be found and Toral said Fr. Cui told the female inmate to burn the picture made of the strange markings.

The second woman who went into hysteria said that after they calmed down the first inmate, she tried to go to sleep in her cot across the victim.  But when she sat on her bed, all she could remember was something heavy that pinned her down.

“Paghuman nga gitabang siya, milingkod ko sa iyang atbang. Pag dayon na og higda, murag naay midat-og nako,” (After we calmed her, I sat across her. When I was about to lie down, I felt  something heavy that pinned me down.

She said she became blind in a short period time, and saw herself in a garden and in a cave walking.  She said she just kept praying that she would snap out of it.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said the Cebu provincial government would look into the situation and do their best to remedy the condition inside the prison facility and provide an ambulance and service vehicle.

Plans are afoot to construct an extension building to decongest the prison population.

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TAGS: Capitol Parish, Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, CPDRC, demonic possession, female inmates, Fr. Rey Cui, Hallucination, human reasons, male inmate, Marco Toral, Monday afternoon, Msgr Tan, Msgr. Joseph Tan, possessed, prayers for inmates, Provincial Health Office, provincial inmates, supernatural, Toral

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