Inmates in Cebu may have to face a decrease in their daily ration following the National Food Authority’s (NFA) refusal to sell government-subsidized rice jail facilities due to dwindling stocks.
The Bureau of Jail and Management Penology in Central Visayas (BJMP-7) revealed that once all the staple acquired from NFA will be fully consumed, they will have to resort to purchasing commercial rice. Since commercial rice is more expensive, jail wardens and managers now have to buy fewer stocks and will need to be give out smaller portions so that there will be enough for everyone.
BJMP-7 spokesperson Rocelle Escaño told Cebu Daily News on Friday that they were now planning to purchase commercial rice at P1,800 per sack.
“It’s the cheapest we found since we observed that the price of commercial rice has also increased,” she explained.
The price is P550 more than the P1,250 for every sack that was usually bought by BJMP-7 from NFA–7, which meant that a bigger share of their budget would now be used for rice alone that would normally have gone for other foodstuff provided to inmates, said Escaño.
“This is why there’s a huge possibility that the inmates may experience a decrease in their ration of rice. We have to consume rice wisely especially there’s no definite schedule when we can request again from NFA,” she said.
According to Escaño, each jail facility in Cebu under BJMP-7 would usually order 100 sacks of rice per month from NFA.
So far, he said, only the rice order from BJMP – managed Minglanilla Municipal Jail in Minglanilla town has been officially turned down by NFA–7.
But “all jails in Bohol have already been refused to be provided with NFA rice, and there’s also one in Negros Oriental,” she added.
She said BJMP-7 has yet to receive updates from their other jails in Cebu, such as those from the cities of Cebu, Talisay, Bogo, Carcar, Naga, Toledo and Danao City; and the town of Bantayan, Medellin, Consolacion, and Balamban.
“We have no choice but to choose commercial rice. But we received a letter from NFA last week that they won’t be distributing rice anymore,” Escaño lamented.
BJMP-7 supervises a total of 20 prison facilities in Cebu Province alone.
The Cebu Provincial Government, which runs the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), might also consider buying commercial rice if the NFA rice supply they would get through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) and the Office of the Vice Governor would be fully consumed.
Provincial General Services Office (PGSO) Chief Jone Sepe told reporters Friday that they were permitted to acquire rice from private retailers in the event the NFA could not provide the rice needed by the over 3,691 inmates of CPDRC.
“We can purchase commercial rice through bidding and canvassing or through emergency procurement. But rice is distributed faster through the latter. It is allowed especially when the time comes that the inmates no longer have any rice,” Sepe explained.
The CPDRC management said it only had enough rice to feed the inmates up to Friday but Sepe said there was no request yet from the jail warden for supply from PGSO.
No help from Cebu City
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, meanwhile, said BJMP-7 could not expect help from the City Government in feeding prisoners at the Cebu City Jail.
“Let them solve their problem,” said the mayor in a press conference Friday.
Osmeña said that there is no way that City Hall would give any form of assistance to the jail facility.
“No (we will not give any assistance). That’s National Government’s problem, not ours. Why should we come to the rescue?” Osmeña said.
He added: “You know why we stop giving assistance to city jail? Because they (BJMP) pocketed the money… there’s so much corruption there,” Osemña claimed.
He said the City Government previously offered to provide cooked food to the city prisoners but the jail’s management turned down their offer.
“They did not like (the idea). So I cut it off,” Osmeña said.
He said he would only relent if his wife, Cebu City Councilor Maragarita Osmeña, would ask him to provide meal assistance to Operation Second Chance (OSC), the jail facility for minors.