STORIES about shenanigans at the Cebu City Jail have been doing the rounds for years. Because the jail is being run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), tackling the complaints related to these “stories” has been dependent not on the local government officials but on a national government agency. For years, BJMP 7 officials tended to look the other way allowing those “stories” to persist.

The raid conducted early Saturday, done in full force by various law enforcement units, was thus a welcome development. It was called, like in previous raids, “Operation Greyhound” but it was an operation like no other before it in intensity and scope. No wonder it also netted the biggest catch in years.

Not only were illegal drugs seized but also bills and coins amounting to more than P4 million. The money may be proceeds from a legal transaction or from the illegal drugs trade but the presence of such a big amount inside the jail is suspicious. That does not take into consideration the confiscation of illegal drugs inside. After that major operation, a no-nonsense investigation is in order.

The first step has been done with the relief today of jail warden Johnson Calub and 28 senior jail guards while an investigation is being conducted. The warden and the jail guards could not escape responsibility for the mess considering how big and deep the illegal drugs operation in the jail seem to have become. Either they connived with the erring inmates or abetted the problem by being silent about it.

In the old days, corrupt wardens and jail guards merely made do with shaving off a chunk from the inmates’ food allowance. Apparently they have gone big time in connivance with arrested drug traders, receiving a weekly payola of P3,000 each from the 36 cells—that is if information received by BJMP 7 is true. A harsher penalty should therefore be imposed on erring BJMP personnel.

We know that these incidents of corruption in our jails have their ebb and flow. When nobody is looking those shenanigans will be committed once more. Thus the more important point is to come up with mechanisms that will either prevent or lessen the possibility of a recurrence of these irregularities.