Holding them accountable
By now we won’t be surprised if the tagline “This is a corruption-free institution” that is/was prominently displayed in front of the Capitol building had been taken down if it hadn’t been already.
If it wasn’t, then last week’s Provincial Board (PB) session in which former Asst. Provincial Warden Romeo Manansala exposed the alleged irregularities committed by recently resigned Capitol consultant on jail matters Marco Toral should give Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III serious pause for reconsideration.
To recall, Toral quit his post after the discovery of a cell phone and laptop in the possession of German national Thomas Ruhland and Filipina Eileen Ontong, who were jailed on charges of cyberpornography.
His resignation had occurred before the recent simultaneous raids at the Cebu City Jail and the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) that uncovered a drug stash worth more than P300,000; P4.5 million in cash and assorted contraband like flat screen TVs.
But even if Manansala also quit his acting warden post, Davide chose to reassign him to the Civil Security Unit despite, if reports are to be believed, giving Toral free rein to institute some policies that allowed inmates some freedom at the cost of the uninterrupted entry of drugs, cash and contraband.
Toral justified his actions by saying that while Manansala ran the administration and daily operations, he was allowed to implement programs that are supposed to improve the welfare of inmates.
This includes setting up a bakery that gave participating inmates some extra cash which may have explained why they managed to buy TV screens and built “kobols” or private rooms.
But how to explain the drugs, the cell phone and the laptop that allowed inmates to resume their illegal drug trade and cyberpornography trade behind bars? What to make of the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA-7) claim that alleged drug lord Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro continues to run his trade there despite being locked up?
That in fact the CPDRC is one of several trading centers for illegal drugs in Cebu and the rest of Central Visayas, as claimed by PDEA? After learning all these, Governor Davide can only reply that he didn’t know that these were happening under the watch of Toral and Manansala.
Manansala may try to explain away these irregularities by saying that people don’t know and cannot fully appreciate the complexity of the problems in running the provincial jail. That may be so, but Toral was hired by Governor Davide who in turn was elected by the people of Cebu.
As such they have every right to question Toral and Manansala for how they ran the provincial jail, but they may be disappointed to learn that the governor won’t do anything to make them accountable for the debacles that happened in their watch.
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