Despite a recent Commission on Audit report showing more than 500 percent congestion in jail facilities, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said that he was "happy" with situation of the country's detention centers. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

Despite COA report on jail congestion, Duterte 'happy' with situation of detention centers
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) - October 18, 2017 - 2:25pm
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the situation of jails in the country despite a Commission on Audit report in June this year showing that its detention centers are bursting with inmates.
 
Duterte said during his jail visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology that he was "happy" with the conditions of jails he had seen.
 
He told his audience that he was already working to give detainees their needs, but in the meantime he would provide television sets to each jail cell by the end of the month.
 
"I was looking at the situation of our prisons, and I think they are okay and I'm happy. Of course, we would want to give them everything, but I told them that I would provide each and every cell with a TV by the end of the month," Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
 
 
"The situation is okay. They [prisoners] are comfortable, clean. I'm satisfied by the way it is being run by the BJMP," he added.
 
The president's assessment however was in contrast to a COA report released in June this year painting a dire situation of the country's detention facilities.
 
According to the COA, the total jail population of the Philippines had already exceeded the total capacity of its detention cells.
 
The total average of overcrowding of jail cells was at 511 percent, the COA said.
 
"As of December 31, 2016 the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) has a total jail population of 126,946 which exceeded the total ideal capacity of 20,746 having a variance of 106,200 or has a total average of 511 percent of congestion/overcrowding or clogging,” the COA said.
 
From 2015, the number of inmates increased by more than 30,500, and congestion in district jails, city jails, municipal jails, extension jails and female dormitories was a violation of BJMP's own manual and regulations as well as those of the United Nations, according to the COA.
 
The audit agency attributed that overcrowding of jails mainly to the increase in the number of drug-related cases in the country as well as the slow or non-action of courts on pending cases.
 
Many of the detainees qualified for bail remain also incarcerated due to poverty, the COA noted.
 
 
BJMP director Serafin Barretto also admitted the congestion in BJMP's facilities.
 
In July, he said that more than 140,000 inmates had been squeezed into the agency's 466 detention centers nationwide as of June 30, higher than the 98,000 prisoners recorded before Duterte became president.
 
The president also assured BJMP personnel that the government would double their salaries by next year if the country's economic conditions continued to improve and the government collected more taxes.
 
The president also promised better housing units for the police, the military and jail personnel.
 
Modern equipment will also be given to these government agencies, the president stated.
 
"I want to build a strong army. I want to build a strong police, a strong BJMP," he said although the chief executive noted that the purchase of fire trucks was hampered following allegations of anomalies surrounding the deal.

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