A rank-and-file employee of the Palawan provincial jail disclosed on social media last week that one of their high-profile inmates has been enjoying undue special treatment, ostensibly living in relative comfort inside the detention facility and exercising some degree of influence and power over other inmates and even jail officials. The inmate reportedly also runs a profitable convenience store within the facility and allegedly points to high officials in the province as his principals or backers.

It appears from the series of posts of the employee concerned that he has an ongoing feud with the inmate, a former NPA leader facing several criminal charges in court.

The detainee, reportedly the head of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Palawan at one time, was captured by local authorities sometime in 2014 and goes by various aliases including Gilbert Silagan.

Media’s reporting on the issue has so far relied mainly on the aforementioned social media posts, describing Silagan’s alleged exercise of power and privilege inside the provincial jail. So far, no substantial statement and explanation has been released by the provincial government.

The Palawan provincial jail serves mainly as a temporary holding facility for individuals with pending cases before the courts. Convicted felons are often transferred to regular detention facilities managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, including the Iwahig prison which is within Puerto Princesa City.

There has been no adequate response so far from the Capitol after the media picked up the story early in the week, save for the casual announcement that the matter will be investigated.

The disclosure of Silagan’s alleged privileges raises important questions of public interest that the provincial government should, nay must, adequately address. The allegation points to an important question of how the Palawan provincial jail is being managed.

If the allegations are true, it is necessary that the provincial government undertake a crucial reform of its jail management system. But before that, a thorough and credible probe should take place.


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