Cebu City Jail implements stricter visitation rules

By Carmel Loise Matus |August 14,2016 - 10:57 PM
Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) division of the Philippine National Police take hold of the ground floor of the male dormitory of the Cebu City Jail. (CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

Members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) division of the Philippine National Police take hold of the ground floor of the male dormitory of the Cebu City Jail. (CDN PHOTO/CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

If you want to visit the Cebu City Jail, be ready to bring a requirement that is a requisite when transacting business with a government agency or even with a bank: a valid and authenticated ID.

Two days after millions of pesos in cash and drugs were confiscated following the Greyhound operation at the Cebu City Jail, formerly known as the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC), inmates would still be allowed to see their relatives during visiting hours but at least one government-issued or company-issued identification card must always be presented.

Chief Supt. Allan Iral, regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Central Visayas (BJMP-7), said the ID system has long been a standing requirement for visitors, but this has not been followed or has been loosely implemented in the jail.

This time, however, it will be strictly implemented. The ID will be subjected to close scrutiny for authenticity. No ID, no entry.

Iral told CDN in a phone interview on Sunday that they expected the inmates to complain about this requirement, but he said they would not bend on this one.

Noise barrage stopped

According to Iral, the prisoners did raise a howl over the Greyhound operation, a surprise inspection that jail authorities often conduct to ferret out contraband and other prohibited items stashed by prisoners, as it is often followed by the suspension of the visitation rights of the inmates’ families and friends.

Iral said he was told that the jail’s prisoners were planning to hold a noise barrage yesterday, but this was prevented after BJMP decided not to suspend the visitation rights.

But according to Iral, he has warned the inmates through the jail authorities to not even dare sneak in illegal drugs or contraband through their relatives, or they would be forced to suspend their visitation rights.

The situation at the jail went back to normal yesterday. But by normal, Iral said it would mean that visitors could not go inside the jail facility not only without their IDs but they also have to go through a thorough check, including the things they are bringing inside the city jail.

Iral said they might assign more personnel who would carefully search every visitor of the jail facility.

Prior to the Greyhound operation on Saturday, there were only four jail guards assigned at the visitors’ area of the jail to search visitors, or two each for male and female visitors.

But these four personnel literally have their hands full since they have to search almost 1,000 persons who visit the jail every day.

The city jail, while designed for only 600 inmates, now has a population of 3,089 prisoners, Iral said.

Biometrics

For a long-term plan, Iral said they intended to ask every inmate to submit the five names of their only relatives who will be allowed to enter the jail. If granted the funding, Iral said they would also want that the biometrics of these five relatives be taken as part of the records of the jail facility.

He said this measure will prevent those drug users posing as the inmates’ relative to get in the jail facility by using a fake ID.

Iral said he would be meeting within the week the warden of BJMP-run detention facilities in the region to discuss a uniform implementation of this measure throughout Central Visayas.

But the biometrics, he added, might have to come at a later time since it needed to
undergo procurement under government funding.

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