By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita April 27,2017 - 11:07 PM

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters,  and personnel from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) check on the packs of cigarettes intercepted at the grounds of Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC) as the contraband were en route to the nearby Cebu City Jail.

Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters, andpersonnel from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) check on the packs of cigarettes intercepted at the grounds of Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC) as the contraband were en route to the nearby Cebu City Jail.

Cebu City Jail inmates  smuggle contraband through  Operation Second Chance Center, an adjacent rehabilitation facility for youth offenders
If there’s a will, there’s a way.

Cebu City Jail inmates have found a clever way to sneak in contraband items into the facility, exposing their strong will to get around jail restrictions that have gotten stricter since March.

With tighter rules now imposed at the city jail after prohibited items were confiscated in a surprise raid last month, adult prisoners have resorted to asking young residents of a nearby city-owned rehabilitation facility to sneak in contraband to them.

The rehab facility called Operation Second Chance Center (OSCC), which accepts minor offenders from Cebu City, sits beside the city jail in the hilly lands of Barangay Kalunasan.

Only a concrete 15 to 20-foot perimeter wall separates the two facilities with the OSCC having an open area near the fence where the housed minors could hang out and play basketball.

At the other end of the open area is another fence, still 15–20 feet tall which connects to an annex dormitory of the OSCC.

Right beside that OSCC fence is the male dormitory of the city jail.

Contraband discovery

According to OSCC Executive Director Merlina Metante, officials of the minor rehabilitation facility started to find packs of cigarettes on Good Friday last April 14.

The cigarettes lay on a spot at the open area apparently after these were thrown in from outside the wall of OSCC.

This was followed by several more cigarettes left on April 15, 16 and 17 on the same spot, using the same method of sneaking in the contraband.

Metante said that they were able to intercept between two to 70 packs of cigarettes bundled together with notes attached to the items indicating to which cell of the city jail the banned items were to be delivered.

“Nakita namo nga gikan siya sa gawas, naa man open area diha. Dira ilabay, then mosulod diri. Then dunay bata nga molabay pud ngadto sa (Cebu City jail) male dormitory,” Metante told reporters.

(We saw that the contraband came from outside and then thrown into the open area inside. Then a minor would throw the items into the male dormitory of the city jail.)

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña chided barangay officials and garbage collectors in Barangay Kamputhaw for failing to collect their garbage which were scattered all over their sidewalks. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña

OSCC authorities decided to gather the cigarettes and report the matter to Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

Built to accommodate 100–150 persons, OSCC currently houses 183 children in conflict with the law (CICL). Of the number, 75 are facing cases for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The OSCC is said to be the first of its kind in the country established long before the enactment of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice Law.

The facility was built to save minor offenders, who were then detained along with hardened criminals at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) — the former name of the city jail — from becoming full-fledged criminals themselves.

Alarming find

Aside from overcapacity, the center also suffers from a lack of uniformed personnel.

Metante said that they had coordinated with officials of the Cebu City Jail to help them monitor their wards to prevent the further entry of contraband items into the OSCC.

Last Wednesday night, Metante said they were able to confiscate another batch of 150 packs of cigarettes which she considers “alarming.”

Metante called on the help of Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, the city’s deputy mayor on police matters.

For the month of April alone, a total of 349 packs of cigarettes, 67 lighters and two pairs of scissors were intercepted by OSCC personnel.

Interestingly, 216 empty plastic sachets were also discovered left lying on the open field of the OSCC, as if waiting to be picked up.

The packs were believed to be intended for use in the repacking of illegal drugs.

A small, clear sachet containing white crystals believed to be shabu was also found inserted in one of the cigarette packs during an inspection of the confiscated items conducted by Tumulak who came with personnel from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the Cebu City Jail and the Guadalupe Police Station, Thursday.

Councilor Dave Tumulak.  (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Councilor Dave Tumulak. (CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA)

The packs of cigarettes were laid on the ground as a K9 dog from PDEA sniffed through them and found the sachet containing the suspected shabu.

“This is the first time we discovered that contrabands (sic) are smuggled into the city jail through the Operation Second Chance. We did not expect that they will use the minors. We will have this investigated. I suspect that this has been tolerated before,” said Tumulak.

It was only last April 1 when the Cebu City government took full custody of the management and operation of the OSCC after the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) pulled out all their personnel from the youth facility.

The OSCC is now under City Hall’s Department of Social Welfare and Services (DSWS).

Strict policies

Tumulak said that the use of OSCC minors by adult prisoners as their conduits in smuggling contraband into the jail may have been prompted by new policies set in place by newly appointed jail warden Arnel Peralta.

Peralta has prohibited the entry of cigarettes into the city jail.

“Right now, our BJMP personnel under Warden Peralta is strict in prohibiting contraband into the city jail. Cigarettes are considered as contraband,” said Deputy Cebu City Jail Warden Richard Tulabing.

The OSCC currently has 40 personnel, all of whom are civilians. The number includes the administration staff, house parents and civilian security personnel.

To deter any more smuggling activities between the OSCC and city jail compounds, Tumulak tasked the Guadalupe Police Station, which has jurisdiction over Barangay Kalunasan, to send cops to patrol the OSCC area regularly.

Tumulak also vowed to push for a budget for the construction of a taller OSCC perimeter fence before the Cebu City Council.

DSWS head Lea Japson, for her part, said that since building a taller fence would take time, she will work on temporary immediate solutions for now.

“We will put up barbed wires on top of the fence to prevent the throwing of items and so that these may be caught up in the wires. For now, I will just use my personal money. At least we can see that we did something there,” she said.

Japson added that she was “puzzled” at how OSCC personnel were able to record several smuggling incidents in just one month yet not a single incident was reported prior to City Hall’s takeover of the facility from BJMP.

Japson suspects that this kind of smuggling had gone on when BJMP was still running OSCC. She also does not discount the possibility that some of the center’s civilian personnel may be involved.

Japson is calling for an investigation on the matter.

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TAGS: barangay Kalunasan, Cebu, Cebu City, Cebu City jail, drugs, Operation Second Chance, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency

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