The men, Rohingya plucked from a boat in March, burrowed out through a hole behind the toilet at the weekend.
Two other Rohingya stayed behind when the 36 fled because they couldn't walk. Fifteen of the escapers have since been recaptured and were being presented at court today.
Colonel Sanchai said he wanted to make it clear that the Rohingya men, among passengers on a boatload of more than 100 men, women and children that arrived on Phuket on March 23, faced no charges before the escape.
He showed the Phuket media today through the basic cells where the Rohingya were being held.
''The two who did not escape with the rest have lost the will to walk,'' he said. ''It's hard for them all to deal with the problems of being held indefinitely.''
He said about 2000 Rohingya were being held through Thailand because no policy had been determined by the Thai government.
The main problem for Phuket Immigration and other places where the Rohingya were being held was lack of translators, he said.
''We could not talk to them,'' the colonel said. ''There was a breakdown in communication most of the time.''
When asked by a Phuketwan reporter what the answer should be to continued captivity of the Rohingya in Thailand, he said: ''Bail them into the community.
''Have people who are willing to guarantee their safety and conduct take care of them outside of the cells. Better bail than them going with human traffickers.''
The message being sent to the persecuted Rohingya in Burma - expected to flee in boats in increasing numbers during the next ''sailing season'' from October - was that indefinite detention awaited in Thailand, he said.