Police, judiciary working to decongest overcrowded jails

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) said Friday, April 13, that investigators are closely coordinating with the court to expedite the issuance of commitment orders in order to decongest overcrowded detention cells in police stations.

“Our investigators are also closely coordinating with the various courts to expedite the release of commitment orders so that all those who have been convicted could already be transferred to the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) detention facilities which are much bigger than the detention facilities of the police stations,” said PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao.

He made the statement following the death of an inmate due to heart attack at the Pasay City Police Station.

Seven inmates in the said facility were also rushed to the hospital after collapsing due to exhaustion and dehydration.

The police earlier said the Pasay City Police jail is capable of holding only a maximum of 60 persons. There are currently 157 detainees there, more than double its capacity.

Bulalacao admitted that there are not enough detention facilities in police stations nationwide and they have been unable to cope with the surge in arrests amid the goverment's war on drugs.

He said the fund for the rehabilitation of detention cells in the police stations had already been requested in order to improve the situation of the detainees.

"In as much as the PNP wants to address the issue on overcrowded detention cell, we have to accept the fact that we only have limited available facilities. Nonetheless, we are doing our best to include in the proposed budget the construction of new police station buildings with improved detention facilities," said Bulalacao.

Meanwhile, incoming PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said the PNP will also continue coordinating with the local government units on the rehabilitation of detention cells in police stations in their area.

Since July 2016, 40 detainees have died due to the poor condition of the jail facilities in Metro Manila police stations. Majority of the fatalities were from the Pasay City police office.

“Pinakamarami nga po dyan sa Pasay nga dahil sa sobrang congested na po ‘yung ating detention cells. Tama po ‘yung sinabi ng ating pangulo na kailangan yang mga yan ay palakihin pa lalo na po ‘yung detention cells ng mga kapulisan natin dahil puro mga temporary lang po yan,” he said.

Earlier, Albayalde, as the director of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), called for help in improving jail facilities following the discovery of an alleged “secret jail” at the Manila Police District (MPD) Station 1 in Tondo, Manila by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR found 12 alleged drug suspects in a makeshift detention facility that was behind a bookshelf. There was no proper ventilation nor lighting. There was also no toilet.

In defense, the commander of the said police station said he transferred the 12 detainees to the makeshift jail to decongest the main detention facility. (SunStar Philippines)
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