Saturday, February 2, 2013

“World” getting smaller for city jail inmates

By Dave Paragas

 DAGUPAN CITY – “The world is getting smaller for our prisoners because of the unabated congestion problem inside the city jail.” This was how Jail Chief Inspector Jun Melchor Boadilla described the present condition of the city’s Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) based in barangay Bonuan Gueset here when he, along with 20 jail officers, paid a courtesy call on Mayor Benjie S. Lim last Tuesday at the City Hall conference room last Tuesday.
 Accompanied by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) City Director Roderick Dawis, Boadilla lamented that the detention facilities do not meet the institution’s mission, vision and objectives as declared in their oath to “enhance public safety by providing humane safekeeping and development of inmates in all district, city and municipal jails.”
 Lim informed Boadilla that as early as August 4, 2011, he wrote then DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo to report that “the city jail houses at least 400 inmates in a facility designed to accommodate only a hundred persons...and one of the urgent concerns is to construct a new building to decongest the cramped detention cells.”
 Moved by a deep sense of urgency, he appealed in his letter to Robredo for the allocation of P20 million needed for the construction of a new detention building. Also on November 22, 2011, Lim reported to the late DILG secretary that “the detention building now houses at least 500 inmates and that the increasing number of female inmates needed separate cells.” In that letter, Lim submitted to the DILG the request of the jail warden with a 22- page program of work that includes the whole budget and breakdown of expenses, prepared by the City Engineering Office. Robredo’s answer on January 11, 2012, Robredo forwarded Lim a copy of his letter to Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad, endorsing the “request for funding support” for the construction of a one-storey detention cell building at the BJMP here. On the other hand, Dawis recalled his personal discussion with Robredo, who told him that he clearly understood the situation and promised to work for the release of a P10 million fund for the project, provided that the title or ownership of the property be transferred in the name of BJMP.
 However, on the fateful day of August 18, 2o12, Robredo died in a plane crash in the shores of Masbate Island. “Since then, we have not received any update on our request,” Dawis said. Back to square one Since its inception in 1999, the 3,000 square- meter jail does not have any title of ownership to show, because it is located within the Tondaligan beach and falls under the category of parks and playgrounds as declared under Presidential Proclamation 98. Lim also raised the possibility that the BJMP may finally have its ownership title over the property, noting that it is the first requirement as decreed by the Commission on Audit memorandum.
 He also asked Dawis to follow up with Secretary Mar Roxas or Undersecretary Austere Panadero on “how could they help us on this issue” and ask them about the status of the late DILG secretary’s funding pledge to preempt the possibility of the project going back to square one. “But we need to solve this problem, as soon as possible,” he pointed out. City Assessor Office Officer-in-Charge Alan Dale Zarate commented that “there are actually processes to be followed, and these are: to make a specific request to the office of the president for purposes of the issuance of a presidential proclamation, lifting that area from the parks and playground, proclaiming the same in the name of the BJMP for use as detention facility.”
 “There are stages, and one is to get the area surveyed, and the same survey passes through the DENR, so that they could make a technical description after we had a survey plan approved, we will already ask the DENR to endorse it to the office of the president,” Zarated added. Lim advised the Dawis, Boadilla to “draw the existing BJMP facilities, have a study, explore the expansion and all its probabilities and after that, what we will fast-track the papers, and then call Sec. Mar Roxas to facilitate the exemption requirement.” “Let this challenge enable us to work together,” he concluded.

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