BY AS MUCH AS 344%: Bicol jails overcrowded
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- Provincial, district and city jails are overcrowded by as much as 344 percent, where 82 percent of those detainees are confined there for drug-related cases, according to Jail Senior Supt. Cesar M. Langawin, regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Bicol. Langawin made this report during the joint Regional Peace in Order Council (RPOC) and Regional Management and Coordinating Committee (RMCC) meeting held at La Piazza Hotel and Convention Center here recently. “Our detention facilities throughout the Bicol region are heavily congested with 344 percent. Eighty two percent of the prisoners are drug related cases,” Langawin told the officers and members of the Regional Peace in Order Council presided by its chairman, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal. He disclosed that the most congested district jail is in Tabaco City with 715 percent congestion. In Legazpi City, Langawin said, Mayor Noel Rosal allocated P4M for the construction of additional detention cells in Legazpi City District Jail. To address congestion, Langawin said that the BJMP has allocated amounts for the construction of additional jail facilities. He said P28M have been allocated to construct jail facilities in Iriga City; P28M for Naga City; P16M for Tigaon, Camarines Sur; P8M for San Andres, Catanduanes; and P4M for Masbate City. Lingawan also disclosed that Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara has recommended the establishment of a penal farm colony in Bicol to help decongest the provincial and city jails. “If we have regional Penal Farm Colony in Bicol, our expenses will be lessened because to bring one prisoner to Manila alone costs us about P70,000. So, we’re supporting the move of Gov.s Bichara to realize the plan,” the jail officer said. Mayor Noel Rosal said he is supporting Gov. Bichara’s suggestion but the establishment of the penal farm would be under the Bureau of Correction and it might take a few more years to realize the idea. In a related development, it was revealed that at least 75 barangays in the Bicol region have been declared as drug free out of 2,675 drugs affected barangay. A small number of 20 barangays have been found to be unaffected by the drug menace, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Bicol.