Davide to ease Cordova jail congestion
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III yesterday addressed the jail congestion problem in Cordova town on Mactan Island that was believed to have caused a riot among detainees last week by ordering the transfer of some inmates to the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
Davide issued the order after he saw the condition of the inmates in the detention facilities of the municipal police station in Cordova when he, along with Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, joined Operation Tokhang, the first time that top officials in Cebu were seen taking part in the Philippine National Police’s widely reported anti-drug campaign.
However, Davide stressed that commitment orders from the court must first be secured before those detained in Cordova can be transferred to the provincial jail.
Davide said Senior Insp. Clemente Ceralde Jr., the police chief of Cordova, earlier wrote to him asking to have some of the inmates transferred to CPDRC, and he understood exactly why it had to be done after he saw the overcrowding at the police station’s two detention cells.
The detention cells were supposed to accommodate only up to 30 persons, but because of the rise in the number of arrested drug offenders as a result of Operation Tokhang, the cells now hold over 90 detainees, Ceralde told reporters.
The two detention cells are meant to provide separate cells for men and women, but because of the overcrowding, male detainees now ended up in the cell occupied by women.
Davide said that even if he wanted to send all the Cordova detainees to CPDRC, it could not be done since the provincial jail is also overcrowded, holding almost double its capacity of 1,500.
CPDRC’s acting warden Bobby Legaspi, on the other hand, clarified that they have already started accepting inmates in the provincial jail since the start of March, which now come in at an average of three new inmates every other day coming from the different local government units of the province.
Legaspi said he was informed last week of the town’s plan to move about 20 inmates to CPDRC and the provincial jail could now accept them.
He said they have also started decongesting CPDRC by shipping off insular prisoners to other jail facilities in the country in addition to the inmates that are released every week, including those who have posted bail for minor crimes.
He said that on April 16, another batch composed of 30 insular inmates from CPDRC will be shipped off to New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City while the next shipment will include at least five inmates bound for the Abuyog penal colony in Leyte.
“Our numbers go up and down because every week, there are releases,” he said.
Last January, 11 convicted prisoners from CPDRC were sent to the national penitentiary while another batch of 15 inmates was transferred to the same penitentiary last March.
As of April 6, Legaspi said that CPDRC has 2,734 inmates.
Ceralde, for his part, said that with 95 inmates inside the detention cells constructed for just 30 inmates, it came as no surprise that tempers exploded, causing a detention riot last March 27.
“They had disagreements over some policies, and so last week, there was a commotion. I think that has something to do with the congestion also kasi maiinit na yong mga ulo nila,” he said in a phone interview yesterday.
Ceralde said they conducted a surprise inspection last March 30 after they learned that some inmates are using illegal drugs behind bars.
Seized during the Greyhound operation, he said, were nine cellular phones and assorted drug paraphernalia.
“We did not recover any illegal drugs but the paraphernalia we seized explains it,” Ceralde said.
Although the Cordova detention cells are congested, Ceralde said there will be no letup in their campaign against illegal drugs and all forms of criminality in Cordova, the lone town on Mactan Island.
“We will continue to conduct operations and make some arrests if necessary. We just could not stop just because the jails are full. We have a mandate to do,” he said.
To help ease the situation in the Cordova detention facility, Mayor Tetche Sitoy-Cho said that they have provided the cells with water that is available at all times as well as an electric fan to ease the heat.
Sitoy-Cho explained their detention facility started to get congested after the Duterte administration launched its anti-drug campaign, followed by the decision of CPDRC to stop accepting new inmates in August of last year.
According to Sitoy-Cho, they would be seeking financial help from the province to improve the town’s prison facility.
Sitoy-Cho said part of their plan is to transfer the fire station, which is located adjacent to the police station, and use the area as a new detention facility for the town.
She said she will look for another area where to build a new fire station.
In the meantime, she said, they were glad that Davide is helping them address the concern.
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