By Chito Chavez
With a 442-percent congestion rate, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hard-pressed to improve the living conditions of the people Deprived of Liberty (PDL) under its care.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) head Jail Chief Superintendent Allan Iral on Tuesday said decongesting jails will be one of the priorities of his administration.
In an interview, Iral has remained optimistic over the on-going construction of jail facilities, and that the enhanced paralegal programs will also bring down the congestion rate of the jail facilities to a more manageable 200 percent.
He cited the bulk of the PDL congestion woes remains in the National Capital Region (NCR) as the jail facilities in Metro Manila is at 608-percent in excess of regular capacity.
But Iral expects the situation to turn for the better, citing the construction of jail facilities in Quezon City and San Juan City which are scheduled to b completed in 2021 and 2020, respectively.
The BJMP chief noted the most congested jails in Metro Manila were the Manila City Jail and Quezon City Jail, with 5,731 and 5,296 inmates, respectively.
Manila City Jail can only accommodate 1,200 inmates while Quezon City Jail can house 800 to 900.
In a 6 by 8 or 48 square meter cell, Iral said the number of occupants exceeds the appropriate level of 10 PDLs per jail.
During the Holy Week break, Iral instructed all BJMP regional directors to ensure that maximum attendance of personnel in the 481 BJMP manned jails will be maintained.
With the expected influx of visitors in the jails, Iral said “maximum attendance’’ was necessary to ensure that no untoward incidents occur in the jail facilities.
He also appealed to the PDLs to solemnly pray and reflect on the spiritual aspect of the Lenten Season.
However, Iral stressed the BJMP will not allow self-flagellation in the jails as some PDLs regards this as another “method of repentance’’.
Instead, Iral said there will be “mass, devotion and prayers and confessions to be administered by our chaplains in jails’’.
Iral has also placed the BJMP jails in alert status.
Under the full alert status, BJMP spokesman Chief Inspector Xavier Solda noted that all BJMP personnel will be on duty with their leave privileges being cancelled during the Holy Week.
The BJMP is prepared to combat or control any possible untoward incident that may occur during the week-long break due to the expected influx of visitors.
In preparation for the break, Iral led other BJMP officials in the inspection of NCR jail facilities to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to ensure the inmates’ and jail personnel’s safety.
Iral said he wanted to see for himself if the BJMP-run jail units were prepared for the weeklong observance.
Also, the BJMP has started its inspection in order to check on their plans on how to attend to diseases common during the warm season. (Chito A. Chavez)