Church official condemns strip search in Philippine prison

Visitors to the country’s jails undergo are stripped naked, subjected to an intimate search

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, raised concern on Oct. 10 over the ‘dehumanizing’ treatment of visitors to the country’s national prison. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

 The head of the prison ministry of the Philippine bishops complained of the “dehumanizing” treatment visitors to the country’s national penitentiary undergo.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said visitors are forced to remove their clothes and subjected to an “intimate search.”

“There’s no exemption … even our volunteers and chaplains are stripped naked,” he said, adding that the policy has prevented visits to the maximum compound of the New Bilibid Prison.

Diamante said even some prison ministry workers who attend to the needs of the sick prisonersare now reluctant to come for a visit.

Church activities in the prison are also affected.

“We are holding our activities at the minimum compound because we want to keep our guests away from the dehumanizing way of entering the jail,” Diamante told ucanews.com.

He called on the Department of Justice to look into the issue. “Hopefully they will be able to act on it. There is something really wrong about this,” said Diamante.

He said there are “many other ways of searching for contraband” without “dehumanizing the visitors.”

Diamante raised his concern on Oct. 10 as the Catholic Church marked the observance of the World Day Against Death Penalty.

In a statement, Diamante said the move to restore capital punishment in the country is “unenlightened, counter-productive, and counter-progressive.”

He said the reimposition of capital punishment will be an “affront” to human dignity and called the government to avoid “quick fix solutions” to crimes.

Diamante said the death penalty is the “easy way out” of addressing the “complex and pervasive” problems of criminality.

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