Jailed criminals demand same privileges as senators

Posted at 06/30/2014 6:43 PM | Updated as of 06/30/2014 6:43 PM

Angry convicts yesterday broke out of jail and stormed the Senate, shouting they be given the same privileges as detained senators.

"I demand golf carts!" shouted ringleader and convicted swindler Ben Tilapia.

"I demand nice rooms, good food!" he added.

"And furthermore, I demand to know this -- why am I speaking in perfect English? And better than most commenters on Facebook? Is this another one of those stupid satire columns?"

In an impromptu press conference at the Senate session hall, the escaped convicts said they were angered by the "special treatment" given to arrested legislators.

They were referring to at least two senators, accused of plundering billions of pesos in taxpayers' money, who have been "jailed" in special rooms complete with beds, toilets and kitchens.

Typical Philippine jails are notoriously overcrowded and lacking in basic facilities, with dozens of prisoners jammed in cells and suffering atrocious living conditions.

"I'm a swindler too," prisoner Tilapia said, "but I don't get a kitchen. Do I have to steal billions before I can get a kitchen? As a criminal, am I not as self-respecting and deserving as a senator?"

One prisoner said "I want to be visited by Lani" and when asked why, he said, "nothing I just want to be visited by her."

He was dragged away by security.

Another prisoner, walking around the Senate session hall, said "I feel right at home -- as if I belong here. All I need is a wheelchair."

Convict Lucymae Uod said she was sick of wearing orange jumpsuits all the time and wanted to wear something that would make her look beautiful.

"I want an off-white terno, I want to look like the sort of criminal who attends a State of the Nation Address."

Other prisoners expressed resentment about being denied visiting rights by their families.

"I want to be visited by a child. Any child. A little girl," said convict Paul Katol.

When it turned out he was a convicted child molester, he was immediately wrestled to the ground and dragged away screaming by a group of burly photo journalists.

Tilapia said he and his fellow prisoners had organized lobby groups to demand "senatorial" treatment. He said one organization is the Union of Prisoners and Convicts (UPAC), and the other is the Incarcerated Prisoners Imitating Senators (IPIS).

He said that eventually, the UPAC-IPIS could be turned into a political party in time for the 2016 elections.

"After all," he pointed out, "we already have the essential qualification to run.

"We're criminals."

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