Using cellular phones during office hours is now banned within the jurisdiction of the Iwahig Corrections Facility (ICF).

The ban was based on an order by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director-general Gerald Bantag. It was supposedly part of a move to step up security within the six penal institutions in the country.

“A memorandum was issued banning the use of the cellular phone by personnel in BuCor national headquarters including the other prison and penal farms katulad ng Iwahig during office hours or during the call of duties,” said ICF spokesperson and corrections technical officer II Levi Evangelista in an interview on Monday.

Evangelista said ICF senior superintendent Geraldo Aro had already instructed the supervisors of the Inagawan, Sta. Lucia, and Montible subcolonies to have a storage cabinet where the employees can keep their phones during office hours.

The management has put a communication center where calls will be centralized using a single set of number for family emergencies and other urgent matters.

“All calls and messages from our family ay centralized. Doon sila makaka-receive sa aming communication center sa aming operations. We will be informed kung ano ‘yong message na ‘yon,” he said.

This will be the system for calls from outside the ICF, including the media.

Visitors and tourists are also advised to refrain from using their cell phones while entering the main gate or inside the ICF even for the purpose of taking pictures.

“It will not be collected or deposited sa ating storage box pero they will not be allowed by the prison authorities na gamitin ‘yan, neither magkuha ng pictures without proper approval from the prison authority,” he said.

Evangelista said that the policy on not allowing tourists and visitors to use cellular phones inside the ICF is an existing policy that was not strictly implemented before.

“Ang findings kasi, nagagamit ‘yong cellphone ng employee or ng personnel sa PDL so ‘yon ang naging move niya (director general Gerald Bantag),” he said.

On the part of ICF personnel, Evangelista said that the order is understandable.

“Sa una lang naman yan parang nahihirapan kami but as a personnel ng BuCor we have to follow orders, understandable sa amin ‘yon, focus na lang sa work,” he said.

In previous reports of Palawan News, returnees subject for recomputation of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) had been given the privilege of using cellular phones to connect with their families while temporarily confined inside the facility.

Due to the order implemented on Friday, October 4, returnees are also covered by the ban.