Authorities at City Jail have sought the city government’s assistance in decongesting the city’s main detention facility, which has already exceeded its capacity.
Initially built for a capacity of 220 inmates, the facility presently holds a total population of 780 detainees, more than triple the number of its capacity, according to Jail Inspector Lino Soriano. According to its official website, the Puerto Princesa City Jail held only 472 inmates in 2005.
Seventy six of the detainees are females while 643 are males. Jail officials said the rapid increase in the jail’s population was brought about by the Duterte administration’s campaign against drugs. It currently has 362 inmates detained for drug-related cases, mainly drug users and small-time peddlers.
Soriano said the jail operates on a budget of P60 per day per inmate, which is computed to cover not just the food requirements of the inmates but also for utilities such as water and electricity.
Regular cells inside the penitentiary are packed with inmates undergoing trial. One 6×6 cell is occupied by around 10-15 male inmates. An 18×6 cell along the side of the entrance holds around 50 regular female detainees and has double-deck beds, pillows, blankets and bed sheets. Some sleep on the floor using boxes as mats.
Needless to say, the cells are hot and humid, almost suffocating.
Inmates with drug-related charges are isolated in a medium sized-building while cells for detainees convicted with murder charges are located at the back portion of the facility, separated from petty-crime offenders.
All detainees are only allowed to accept visitors from Tuesday to Friday, 1PM to 5PM, Saturdays and Sundays 8AM to 12NN, and 1PM to 5PM. No visitors are allowed during Mondays.
Soriano, in a recent statement, said they have been coordinating with the local City council to solve the overflowing influx of detainees inside the city jail, requesting the city council to provide them a new facility.
“In 2013, well informed na ang alkalde natin sa sitwasyon ng city jail. Nandoon na ang congestion na dapat ideally kasi 220 inmates lang ang kaya. Ngayon 780 inmates na,” Soriano said.
The City government, however, has not determined any action to address the problem.
“Wala pa tayong update,” Acting City administrator Atty. Arnel Pedrosa said.
Pedrosa also said that they are aware of the problem, even before City Mayor took office as the city’s chief executive.
“Oo naman. Matagal na. Masyado ng maliit ‘yung structure nila to accommodate the number of inmates. Nung previous administration pa lang ganun na,” Pedrosa said.
Pedrosa said that the city government will look for a possible spot for a reconstruction of a new city jail facility, probably on government owned lots in Barangay Iwahig, citing the fact that the supposed to be “new jail” needs to be near legal offices.
“Kino-consider natin ‘yung distance nila from the courts, sa Justice Hall, PAO, and such. Para ma-address din ‘yung need na ‘yun. Diyan siguro sa Iwahig,” Pedrosa said.