Jail facilities congested by 583 percent

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Jail facilities congested by 583 percent

In this Sept. 5, 2016 photo, inmates at the Quezon City jail seek refuge in the shade during a hot afternoon. Over 2,000 inmates were detained in September last year at the congested jail which ideally could only accommodate 800. Efigenio Toledo IV, File

MANILA, Philippines -  One year of President Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs has congested the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) by 583 percent, the government agency’s chief said yesterday.

BJMP director Serafin Barretto said 142,013 inmates have been crammed into the bureau’s 466 jails nationwide as of June 30, much higher than the 98,000 prisoners recorded before Duterte took office last year.

Barretto cited the case of the Pulilan Municipal Jail in Bulacan, which is the most overcrowded facility. Intended for only four prisoners, it currently has 159 inmates for a congestion rate of 3,590 percent.

Another example is the Biñan City Jail in Laguna, which currently houses 595 prisoners, way above its capacity of 22 inmates – a congestion rate of 2,603 percent.

“We have seen the congestion of our jails but we are finding ways to accommodate (inmates),” Barretto said during a media forum in Quezon City.

The other facilities with high congestion rates are Sta. Rosa City Jail in Laguna, with 2,494 percent; Bacoor City Jail in Cavite, with 2,281 percent; and Muntinlupa City Jail with 2,256 percent.

The current custodial personnel to inmate ratio is one jail guard per 63 inmates. Escorting prisoners to court hearings remains a problem, with a ratio of one jail guard for every 33 prisoners.

Philippine law enforcement agencies have arrested around 86,933 drug peddlers and users since the anti-drug campaign began on July 1, 2016.

With only 11,731 officers and personnel on its roster, and only about 7,000 doing custodial functions, the BJMP is undermanned, according to Barretto.

He explained that they are only allowed to hire 500 personnel this year with its current budget of P11.6 billion, of which P5.8 billion is set aside for recruitment.

“We have requested to have 2,000 personnel,” Barretto said, adding it would be up to Congress on whether to approve their proposal.

He is hoping that more judges would be hired so that cases would be disposed of more quickly.           

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