CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—“Will you allow me if I throw or send all our inmates in the provincial jail to the mountains?”
Gov. Lilia Pineda posed this question to the provincial peace and order council on Wednesday in the face of the growing number of inmates that has been straining the resources of the provincial government. Prison food allocations range from P1.5 million to P2 million monthly.
Citing land in upland Floridablanca town near an agricultural school, Pineda said the government could build a 50-hectare prison there “where they can plant their own food and learn new skills.”
She said the provincial government was prepared to make this plan work after a detailed study.
According to Edwin Mangaliman, provincial jail warden, the provincial jail, built in 1909, houses 2,146 detainees or almost three times more than the ideal capacity of 800. The provincial government built a new building behind it to ease the congestion.
About 80 percent of the inmates face drug-related cases, Mangaliman told the council.
Congestion is worse for cells holding men. Each cell holds an average of 140 prisoners.
Each month, the provincial jail takes in 117 inmates and releases only 60 detainees who have been acquitted.
The jail is manned by 70 personnel, 18 of them serving as guards.
Six of seven facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Pampanga are congested, a BJMP representative told the council.
Built to hold 32 detainees, the Guagua district jail keeps 694 suspected offenders. From an ideal 24-inmate prison, the female dorm of the Angeles district jail hosts 419 women. The male dorm, intended for 175 prisoners, is accommodating 2,674 detainees.
The BJMP has been converting container vans into temporary cells in Angeles City. Of the 3,981 detainees held in the seven BJMP sites, at least 3,037 are awaiting trial or being tried for drug-related cases, according to Chief Insp. Voltaire Pace.
Pace said the BJMP was granted P49 million to build a jail in Guagua town but it was still scouting for land to locate it.
Pineda said the council would ask President Duterte to give additional funds to expand jails in the province. She said the Department of Justice would also be asked to fill the shortages in judges, prosecutors and public attorneys. —TONETTE OREJAS
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