DAVAO CITY, Philippines — An official of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology here said they are looking at different ways to address the congestion of the city’s prisons. Aside from the construction of a eight-hectare facility, the BJMP is also looking at facilitating releases of overstaying prisoners.
Jail Chief Insp. Pio Rosero, Regional Investigator of the BJMP Region 11 said they are reviewing their records for inmates that continue to languish in jail, despite being already eligible for release, in part due to delay in court proceedings.
“For example, ‘yung imposable penalty, yung sa kaso nila sobra na, dapat we should invite the attention of the court to issue the appropriate court order or perhaps sa end namin, i-release namin yung moto proprio (For example, [some inmates have already served] more than their imposable penalty. We should invite the attention of the court to issue the appropriate court order, or in our end, we can release them moto propio),” Rosero said.
Rosero said some inmates still in jails for preventive imprisonment have served sentences more than their imposed penalties.
Rosero also mentioned the construction of the new city jail in Wangan, Calinan District here, which has already been appropriated with P238 million for the initial phase of construction. To be completed in three years, Rosero said the jail facility will house some 5,000 inmates, more than enough to accommodate the 3,056 inmates currently detained in the 400-capacity in Maa jail.
Citing government data, 75 percent of the inmates in the city jail are in for drug related offenses alone.
One other strategy that Rosero mentioned is the decriminalizing of certain “simple” offenses, such as theft. Rosero said they are looking into exchanging jail time with community service. However, Rosero said this initiative has yet to be formally proposed.
Rosero also said some offenses can also be relegated to the barangay level in order to reduce the jail population. Rosero further called on other government agencies to come together for a more holistic approach to address the problem on jail congestion.
“‘Di naman pwedeng magconstruct lang tayo ng jail. Dapat other sectors have to come together. Intersection ito ng different issues at government agencies. [Government agencies] should collaborate to come up with a holistic approach (We can’t just build hails. Other sectors should come together. This is an intersection of different issues and government agencies),” Rosero said.
Rosero also announced the construction of a two floor University complex in the facility. A partnership between the University of the Southeastern Philippines and the University of Texas, the jail’s higher education program will be open to inmates who have completed the Alternative Learning System.
“It’s a novel project that the first university, the first collegiate school within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology,” Rosero said.
Rosero said the jail university will be offering social sciences and IT-related courses. The program has already produced 58 graduates since its inception 2004, according to a previous interview with Jail Supt. Grace Taculin.
Read related story: New 8-hectare facility to decongest Davao jail
The Calinan jail facility will also house a “penal farm” facility to keep the inmates productive. (davaotoday.com)