Sharp rise in TB, HIV cases reported in congested Cebu jails
Congestion in jails in Cebu province has been placed at “one thousand percent,” resulting to a sharp rise on illnesses, including tuberculosis, a penology official said.
Senior Insp. Dennis C. Aliño, regional paralegal officer of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Central Visayas (BJMP-7), said that jail congestion has resulted in many health problems for prisoners.
He said that this year, BJMP-7 recorded a sharp increase of tuberculosis cases, a communicable disease, among the inmates in the region, with a total of 218 compared to last year’s 30 cases; as well a 99 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases from 24 cases last year, with 46 health-related deaths recorded as of Aug. 30, 2016.
According to Aliño, the rate of jail congestion in the province is at “one thousand percent,” with at least 11 inmates occupying an area of 4.7 meters, ideally fit for a single prisoner.
The most congested jails in the province are the Mandaue City Jail, Lapu-Lapu City Jail, Toledo City Jail and the Minglanilla Municipal Jail.
Aliño said that among the bureau’s decongestion efforts and initiatives are the construction of the new jails in the cities of Naga and Carcar; the construction of an annex building for the male dormitory of the Mandaue City Jail; and the processing of documents for properties that BJMP plans to acquire in Asturias and Carmen towns where additional jail facilities could be built.
Aliño said he was hopeful that BJMP-7’s request for around P300 million to construct new jails and repair existing jail facilities in the region would be included in next year’s budget.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had decided to hire more researchers to aid judges and to spawn pending cases in congested courts to adjoining areas.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez said they are currently in the process of creating institutional reforms as well as organizing new courts, but since opening new courts would take time, they decided on remedial measures to expedite the resolution of cases of detention prisoners.
“While we are in the process of organizing (new courts), we cannot just leave the number of cases in Lapu-Lapu City and in Mandaue City to pile up so (some of) their cases are also being heard in Cebu City,” Marquez said here yesterday.
In addition, Marquez said they have also started hiring court decongestion officers and researchers to help judges resolve cases faster.
In Cebu, Marquez said the 22 branches of the Cebu City Regional Trial Courts (RTC) have been designated by the Supreme Court to assist in the hearing of cases from the cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu cities only have three RTC branches each, which Marquez pointed out as already very congested and overburdened. Each branch is currently handling an average of 2,000 to 2,500 cases, when the manageable case load of a trial court is only 300 cases, he said.
Marquez said there are already around five to seven newly created courts in each of the two cities, but they are still in the process of organizing these courts through the appointment of new judges, which he hopes would be done before the year ends.
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