Because of a shortage of vehicles, you may end up sharing a jeep or bus with Bureau of Jail Management and Penology inmates who are on their way to or from court.
Senior Jail Officer 4 Rosendo Macabasag, deputy chief of inspections at BJMP National Capital Region, said city jails have vans to transport inmates but they are sometimes not enough.
Without a motor pool to service jail vans, BJMP personnel have to maintain their own vehicles and some break down. Some of the vans were also damaged by heavy floods in August, he said.
Concerned citizen Isis Polo personally saw inmates commuting via bus and jeep in Junction area, Cainta, Rizal.
"I saw two guys in their early 20s walking side by side, wearing bright-yellow shirts about to get down from the G-Liner (bus) I was in. To my surprise, I saw their hands cuffed together! I looked up and noticed what's printed on the back of their shirts: BJMP. They were lousily being ordered to move faster by two men in uniform," Polo told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.
Macabasag said if inmates have court appearances that are "out of the way" or there is no more space in vans, city jails can request for extra vans from the BJMP. On busy court dates though, jail wardens are sometimes forced to hire a vehicle or have the inmates commute.
"Sometimes, you just can't avoid it," Macabasag said of having inmates take public transportation to get to court hearings. Otherwise, he said, the inmates may be found in contempt of court.
Security is always a priority, though, Macabasag said. Inmates have to be handcuffed and wear yellow shirts with BJMP printed on the back. Their escorts have to be in full uniform too and cannot take inmates out without permission from the regional office and a court order. The BJMP also has to inform bus conductors and jeepney drivers that they are transporting inmates "so they won't be alarmed," he said.
Once the inmates and their escorts get to court, another BJMP official does a head count to make sure nobody has gone missing. There is another head count and a security check before they leave the court house to go back to jail, Macabasag said. "You have to check because people might try to slip them something."
Under the Philippine corrections systems, the BJMP has jurisdiction over inmates who are undergoing investigation, whose cases are still pending in court, or those who are serving short sentences. The Bureau of Corrections, which runs the country's prisons, has jurisdiction over prisoners who have been sentenced to at least three years imprisonment.
According to the Bureau of Corrections, it does not allow prisoners to be transported on public utility vehicles. BuCor has vehicles to transport its prisoners, and charters buses and vans if it has to.
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