Drug trade behind bars

|August 14,2016 - 08:36 PM


Last Saturday’s 1 a.m. raid in both the Cebu City Jail and the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) may have justified the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to transfer the police officials formerly assigned in Cebu to Mindanao.

The simultaneous raids which produced P4.5 million worth of drugs, cash and assorted items included smartphones, pocket Wi-Fi, flat screen TV sets and expensive shoes showed just how officials in Cebu City and the province have seriously underestimated the capacity of their inmates to hide contraband items within their cells.

More importantly, it showed such a humiliating, laughable level of laxity and negligence of security in these two jails that strongly suggest conspiracy at the least between jail guards, management and inmates.

The raids would not have been possible without information from an ex-detainee, who claimed that the illegal drug trade inside the Cebu City Jail is so rampant that it had become a full-time business that operated in all likelihood with the blessing of the jail guards and wardens.

While he reiterated that he never promised a drug-free jail, City Jail Warden Johnson Calub blamed the rampant illegal drug trade on their inadequate personnel and offered to resign.
But he didn’t have to because he was sacked and even if he did offer to resign, he was beaten to it by former Capitol consultant on jail matters Marco Toral, a former inmate who quit his post after the discovery of a smartphone and laptop in the possession of Eileen Ontong and German detainee Thomas Ruhland, respectively.

To be fair, the facilities in both the Cebu City Jail and the CPDRC are sorely dismal. The CPDRC is so overpopulated in fact that some prisoners have been moved to the mess hall that would be converted as extra jail space.

We don’t know if both Cebu City Hall and the provincial government allocated budgets for security cameras to be placed in every nook and cranny of their respective jails, but even if they do, the inmates somehow manage to sneak in their contraband either right under the noses of the jail guards or more than likely with their paid cooperation.

Would the discovery of both cash, shabu and assorted merchandise warrant the deployment of security forces there in the level of the National Bilibid Prison, where Special Action Forces (SAF) troopers were deployed to secure the country’s biggest drug lords?

That would seem unlikely since it would spread too thinly the government’s already meager personnel and resources. In all likelihood, similar scenarios have occurred in the prisons of all local governments across the country.

We await the next move of Cebu officials to resolve the illegal drug activities in their jails, but they better act fast and decisively and not wait on the national government to do their job for them.

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