Provincial Capitol: Of prison breaks and other problems
Known globally as the jail facility that houses the dancing inmates, unknown to the world, the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) has been plagued with various issues: from the escape of inmates, to the continued presence of contraband items like laptops and cell phones, to the deaths of at least eight prisoners in the month of July alone.
By August, Capitol consultant on jail matters, Marco Toral, submitted his voluntary resignation to Governor Hilario Davide III citing “personal reasons.”
Toral, in an interview, would not elaborate, but his resignation came amid orders by Davide for provincial authorities to investigate the goings on inside CPDRC.
Asked to comment on Toral’s resignation, Davide explained that Toral, the province’s jail consultant since 2013, could no longer handle the pressure especially after the incidents.
Inmates were deeply saddened by the resignation of Toral whom they described as very “encouraging.”
“We’re very much in grief because whenever we have problems, we can easily approach him,” said Lito Granada, the designated “mayor” of the close to 3,000 CPDRC inmates, in Cebuano.
“It was different before in terms of our food, our privileges, including allowing family visitors to stay overnight as well as the livelihood programs,” he added.
Dr. Gil Macato now sits as the acting jail warden of the CPDRC.
Macato also had his share of issues such as the escape of 26-year-old inmate Efren Lariosa, who was suffering from stage 4 cancer.
Lariosa managed to escape last Nov. 26 while being admitted at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. He was recaptured two days later.
To improve security measures, the CPDRC management installed a new computerized jail management system which will get the inmates’ profile as well as biometrics data and database of jail visitors.
Macato said that the new system will help them keep track of the prisoners’ records easily and monitor their visits.
The system will be fully operational by the first quarter of 2017.
By then, only visitors registered in their database would be allowed to enter the jail.
The deal that took two decades to finalize
Back in 1993, the Cebu provincial government enacted SP Ordinance 93-1, designating several parcels of land that it owned for direct sale to its actual occupants on installment basis.
The parcels of land are located all over the city of Cebu, particularly in 11 barangays: Apas, Busay, Camputhaw, Capitol Site, Kalunasan, Kasambagan, Lahug, Lorega, Luz, Mabolo and Tejero, with a total area of roughly 51 hectares.
Eventually, the period during which the properties could be sold to its actual occupants expired, with most of them unable to pay in full for their respective lots.
On the other hand, the city government, mindful of its mandate to implement the provisions of the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) within its territorial jurisdiction and its role to uplift the lives of the poor and the marginalized, as well as with its goal of securing the abode of its constituents through its socialized housing program, undertook to extend assistance to the beneficiaries of the sale of properties under the 93-1 ordinance.
In light of the situation, the city and provincial governments then undertook to transfer and exchange properties that they respectively own, which they deemed to be advantageous to its constituents, in what was later dubbed as the “93-1 land swap deal.”
Under the memorandum of agreement that covers the land swap deal, the city government undertakes to provide assistance to the province by donating properties owned by the city.
The province, in turn, will transfer to the city the unpaid portions of the properties under ordinance 93-1 as well as three other parcels of land: a portion of the province’s property inside the Department of Agriculture compound, with an area of 1.5 hectares; another one along Gorordo Avenue, with an area of 2,358 square meters; and one in Don Gil Garcia Street in Brgy. Capitol Site, with an area of 577 square meters.
For the city’s part, they will transfer to the province its Block 27 properties, located in North Reclamation Area (NRA), with an area of 3.3 hectares; the Septage Treatment Plant, consisting of 13,711 square meters and city abattoir with 2,476 square meters, also in NRA; a portion of the city’s South Road Properties consisting of 2.5 hectares; and the city’s Pulpogan Property located in Consolacion, Cebu, with an area of 9 hectares.
In addition to the property swap, it was also provided under the agreement that the final settlement of the civil case filed by the city against the province involving a property inside the DA compound will be initiated and the Cebu City Zoo, consisting of 7 hectares, will be turned over to the province.
During its last regular session for the year on December 19, the 14th Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the resolution granting authority to Davide to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the Cebu City government regarding the 93-1 land swap deal.
And in a historic move that finally sealed the deal after more than two decades, the Cebu City Council, on mass motion, likewise approved its resolution authorizing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña to sign the land swap deal with the provincial government in order to resolve the 93-1 lot dispute issue.
Indeed, it was a very merry Christmas for the beneficiaries under the 93-1 land swap deal as they can now rest easy knowing that the fate of the properties they have been occupying over the years is finally anchored on sure grounds.
Davide, commenting on the recent turn of events, said that he was grateful that after all these years, the 93-1 issue was finally resolved although there is still more work to do.
The Provincial Capitol is looking at developing the properties that the city would cede to the province under the agreement to make them “income-generating,” and studies will be conducted on how best to develop and maximize their use.
The heavy equipment dilemma
After almost two years since it was initiated and with the first bidding subsequently declared a failure, the Cebu provincial government is finally moving forward on its procurement of equipment for the construction and maintenance of provincial roads.
In a vote of 8–4 and with 2 abstentions, the 14th Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the resolution authorizing Davide to enter into a contract with the joint venture of ConEquip Philippines Inc. and RDAK Transport Equipment Inc. which was declared as the lowest bidder among four other companies that either did not push through with the bidding or was disqualified by the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).
ConEquip / RDAK is set to supply the province with various brand-new construction light and heavy equipment amounting to P227.4 million.
Allegations of rigging plagued the procurement process from the beginning.
The first bidding was held in 2015, with ConEquip declared as the winner despite submitting a higher bid than others.
Davide subsequently declared a failure of bidding, citing public interest and a need to dispel all doubts on the integrity of Capitol’s procurement process.
During the second bidding, five companies expressed interest to supply the heavy equipment, namely Civic Merchandising Inc., ConEquip Philippines-RDAK Transport Equipmment joint venture, D Limitless Vehicle Corp., TKC Heavy Industries Corp. and JVF Commercial.
But only ConEquip-RDAK and D Limitless attended the actual bidding.
ConEquip-RDAK was eventually declared the winner after submitting the lowest bid and complying with Capitol requirements.
The 2017 budget and what lies ahead
During its last regular session for the year, the Provincial Board likewise approved the 2017 annual budget appropriating the total sum of P3,622,590,799.55 for the general fund.
The biggest slice of the budget would go to hospital operations, amounting to P881.9 million or P235.9 million higher than the P646-million budget for hospital operations in 2016.
The executive department is also given a bigger budget of P30 million for medical supplies, higher than the 2016 approved budget of P23 million.
Other departments and offices budget include, among others: Provincial Health Office, P488 million; Office of the Governor, P614.8 million; Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, P135 million; Provincial Disaster Risk the Reduction and Management Office, P166 million; Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, P118 million; Provincial Agriculture Office, P109 million; and Provincial Veterinary Office, P34 million.
The executive’s total proposed budget of P3.6 billion is only about P200 million higher than their 2016 approved budget of P3.4 billion.
Reflecting on what his administration was able to do over the year, Davide said that these are not “achievements” as of yet but “works in progress.”
For 2017, the governor plans to continue upgrading provincial hospitals, giving farm implements to farmers and building additional classrooms — to deliver a promise of “Kalambuan sa matag Sugbuanon.”
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