Resolving cases fast helps decongest jails: Gwen

SPEEDY disposition of cases and deputation of doctors and nurses for drug testing of inmates are among the measures Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said can help decongest detention cells in towns.

Her pronouncement came after overcrowding inside the Liloan Police Station detention cell was reported by SunStar Cebu on its Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 issue.

“It is a common malady for all jails. We cannot solve one problem by adding to another,” Garcia said on Tuesday.

Sleeping has become a problem for Liloan’s 225 inmates due to congestion. It has reached a point where inmates have to take turns sleeping on a shifting scheme devised by the police station chief.

P/Maj. Danilo Colipano, Liloan police chief, sent a letter to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) requesting the transfer of some of their detainees to the facility in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City. But the jail management refused, saying it is already crowded.

Congested CPDRC

The governor said granting Colipano’s request would not be possible at the moment because CPDRC has yet to fully address its own congestion concerns as well.

Opened in 2004 during Garcia’s earlier term, the CPDRC, which was built for some 1,500 detainees, is now home to 2,040 inmates.

Since August 2018, the facility has stopped taking new admissions until it can address the congestion problem.

“What we are doing is working on the speedy disposition of cases... In fact, when I came in, there were almost 2,500 inmates. We’re now down to 2,040. That’s because we’re really working on a speedier disposition with the help of IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) as well as PAO (Public Attorney’s Office),” Garcia said.

She further said that doctors and nurses were deputized to conduct drug tests for inmates who want to avail themselves of the plea bargain, which allows their release from CPDRC after they yield negative results in the drug dependency examination.

“We’re trying all fronts but still, even at 2,040, the capacity is only for 1,500. So, we’re still over 500 inmates,” Garcia said.

She also suggested building district jails as another option for decongestion.

Sought for comment, the governor’s daughter Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia-Frasco told SunStar Cebu in a text message sent on Monday evening, Dec. 2: “Our chief of police has requested both CPDRC and the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) for assistance to decongest. I have also spoken to judge of MCTC (Municipal Circuit Trial Courts) to discuss measures to decongest, and I will be requesting meeting with RTC (Regional Trial Court) Mandaue for the same purpose.”

In a related development, the governor said she has no qualms with the move to let the BJMP take over the management of provincial jails.

“I had a different take on that before. But if they want, go ahead. It’s one less headache for me actually, but they should know what laws to amend because (CPDRC) continues to be under the Province,” Garcia said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa is pushing for a bill that seeks to transfer control and supervision of provincial and sub-provincial jails to the BJMP in order to have a standard set of policies and guidelines in the administration of jails.

Dela Rosa, who had served as chief of the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Corrections before becoming a senator, said local jails are under the jurisdiction of two different authorities wherein the city, municipal and district jails are under the BJMP while the provincial and sub-provincial jails are under the provincial governments. (RTF)