Holy smokes! Priest busted for ‘smuggling’ cigarettes into Bohol jail

Bohol jail
The haul of cigarettes and tobacco carried into the jail by the priest. Photo courtesy of Dave Charles Responte.

A priest visiting Bohol jail to conduct mass yesterday (Sunday, November 26) was caught with a huge haul of contraband tobacco.

Father James Darunday claims to have been duped after the wife of an inmate asked him to deliver a box of food to her husband.


However, when jail guards inspected the plastic container, they found at least 50 packs of cigarettes and a number of unprocessed tobacco leaves hidden under a layer of biscuits.

Cigarettes and all smoking materials are strictly banned at the the Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Centre (BDRC).

Speaking in a telephone interview with Rappler today, the priest said he trusted the woman, who he said he knew, when she assured him it was only food.


“I was too trusting,” he said. “I agreed to carry the container out of compassion, believing it contained just biscuits.

“It could have been worse if there were illegal drugs. Thank God, there were no drugs in it.”

The cleric is a former navy chaplain and has been ministering to up to 900 inmates at the jail for more than seven years.

He said that in the past he had frequently taken food in to help prisoners at the Bohol jail, paid for out of his own pocket or by donors.

However, Felipe Montejo, a warder at Bohol jail, has suggested that the priest may be banned from officiating mass in the future.

“I would respect their decision if they would ban me,” he said. “I just hope that another priest would look after the spiritual lives of the inmates.

“God knows I was innocent. I did it out of good motive. It was unfortunate this had happened.”

Last week, a surprise police inspection at the jail yielded packs of shabu (methamphetamine), mobile phones, bladed weapons and drug paraphernalia.