Briones: Talisay City’s ‘drug-free’ jail

Publio J. Briones III

I don’t mean to be a cynic but having worked in the media for the last two decades does that to you.

So forgive me if my eyebrows have found refuge in the ceiling when I learned that the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (Icad) declared the Talisay City Jail as a drug-free detention facility. We’re talking about both its male and female dormitories.

In fact, the Talisay City Jail was just one of 10 such facilities in Central Visayas that were given the thumbs up. In the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue, only the female dormitories obtained drug-free statuses.

Of course, the announcement, which was made on Thursday, Dec. 19, made Talisay City’s young mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. very happy.

And he had every right to own it.

Three years ago, in September 2016, an Operation Greyhound at the Talisay City Jail yielded drug paraphernalia and contraband.

Although no illegal drugs were found, the former warden, Chief Insp. Josephus Jelianggao, admitted that shabu often found its way inside the facility because it lacked the capability to detect them, especially if they were brought in by visitors.

In January this year, three of its detainees tested positive for drug use during a surprise drug test conducted by members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) 7.

One tested positive of marijuana use. However, he told authorities that he had been smoking pot right before his arrest for drug possession. That could explain why the drug was still in his system. I heard that marijuana can stay in your body for weeks. Or something like that.

As for the other two, they said they were taking medication for an ailment.

I don’t know if they still tested positive after the confirmatory testing, which is standard procedure, since there was no follow-up news on the matter, but it only showed that achieving absolutes in this administration’s war against illegal drugs can be a bit tricky.

So Icad learned that the Talisay City Jail and the nine other detention facilities conducted three consecutive greyhound operations and, during the searches, did not find a single contraband, including drugs.

Also, none of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) 7 personnel assigned to these facilities tested positive for drug use. And I would hope so. I thought that was a given, but apparently it’s part of the criteria for being declared as a drug-free facility.

Pdea 7 also reported that none of the drug personalities detained at the Talisay City Jail were still engaged in drug trafficking and it knows that because...

And what do you make of this? Twenty percent of the inmates were clean.

Ha? Now you know why my eyebrows are glued to the ceiling. What exactly did they mean by “clean?” Were they referring to personal hygiene? Was that it? Please enlighten me.

The danger of these so-called “drug-free” seals is that it’s all for show; so Pdea and BJMP officials can pat themselves on the back for a job well done and perhaps give themselves bonuses.

I don’t mean to rain on Gullas’ parade, but I suggest he take a closer look at the state of the city’s detention facility. Perhaps he can ask why the other 80 percent had not taken a shower. Oh yes, the lack of water in the city, but that’s another story.