Carrying alcoholic drinks inside the Balsahan River in the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm is no longer allowed, and the time visitors can spend there for picnics has also been limited, its administration said.

The superintendent of the penal farm, C/CInsp. Gary Garcia, stated that these two new policies have been implemented since last week. They expect visitors to comply to prevent any issues and to continue enjoying this popular river location.

Garcia emphasized that bringing alcohol is now forbidden because of documented incidents involving visitors leaving the river while intoxicated, leading to accidents.

He added that even persons deprived of liberty (PDL) are sometimes enticed to consume alcohol, an act that is firmly prohibited in the facility.

Visitors are now only allowed to swim from 7 o’clock in the morning until 2 o’clock in the afternoon because the water from the river is needed for the irrigation of their crops.

“Yong sa Balsahan [River], gusto ko lang ipaliwanag yong bagong kautusan natin na ni-limit natin yong pagtagal dyan at ipinagbawal natin yong pagdala ng alak kasi record shows na marami nadidisgrasya kapag nanggagaling doon at palabas na sa amin. Ilan na yong sumimplang dyan at dumidiretso sa basakan,” he said.

“Aside from that, it’s part of our security, talagang bawal po ang alak dito sa loob ng reservation dahil may mga PDL din tayo na naka-assign doon,nag-a-assist doon—may mga report na lalasingin dahil doon sa mga civilian na nagdadala ng alak,” added Garcia.

He clarified further that the time restriction was implemented because their agricultural initiatives would be operating at maximum capacity, and would require water.

He stressed that the real purpose of Balsahan River inside IPPF is irrigation for the farm fields.

Balsahan River is within the vicinity of one of the country’s most unique prison settings, where inmates live relatively free within the farm. The location is favored for its natural beauty, opportunities for picnicking by the riverbanks, accessibility to both locals and tourists seeking a nearby natural escape, and its generally safe environment despite being within a penal colony.

The river is about 20 kilometers from downtown Puerto Princesa, and the entrance fee is P10.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.