CALLING it a “national emergency,” Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr. said that they are gunning to build more jail facilities to address jail congestion problems in the country.

During a forum yesterday, Hinlo said the country’s average jail congestion is 488 percent this month, a sharp rise from last month’s national congestion rate of 451 percent.

The above rate means about 49 inmates occupy a cell that is designed to hold only 10 prisoners.

And that figure could increase due to the administration’s intensified campaign against drugs.

“We are expecting the number of arrests to rise. More arrested suspects will be detained so the government should be prepared to accommodate them. They’re not even convicted yet,” he said in Tagalog.

“And even if they are already convicted, we are duty-bound by the Constitution to treat them humanely and we respect their human rights so they should be detained in jail facilities that do this,” he said in Tagalog.

Negotiation

Hinlo said the government is negotiating with property owners where additional facilities will be built.

On the case of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino said the facility was built for only 1,428 inmates, but it currently houses 2,996 inmates (as of Sept. 12).

The provincial jail has 119 cells, with each cell designed to hold 12 occupants.

Under the current setup, 25 inmates occupy each cell, or an occupancy rate of 208 percent.

Tolentino pointed out that CPDRC has stopped accepting new inmates, which he said helps ease congestion in the facility.

But this policy is not a long-term solution since non-acceptance of new inmates means that other jail facilities will have to accommodate them.

As part of the Capitol’s plans and initiatives to decongest CPDRC, Tolentino said they approved a supplemental budget of P6 million last month to build additional cells and to improve its infirmary.

Database

The supplemental budget will be used to build additional jail facilities to reduce the number of inmates per cell.

“However with that budget, while we would be able to reduce the number of inmates in each cell, it’s a limited budget,” he said.

“I don’t think we will be able to bring the number down to the ideal capacity of 12 inmates per cell so that remains a problem that we will address,” he said.

Tolentino also said they plan to create a database for inmates and detainees to institutionalize the profiling system, which could help manage the inmates’ information.