Mandaue, IBP sign pact to decongest jail

Mandaue City Hall (File photo: Mandaue City Public Information Office)
Mandaue City Hall (File photo: Mandaue City Public Information Office)

THE Mandaue City Government has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter to expedite the release of certain inmates, particularly those under preventive detention, to help decongest the Mandaue City Jail.

The agreement was made through the program “Humanity Behind Bars: An Integrated Jail Decongestion and Management” at the Office of the City Mayor on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

The MOA signing was attended by officials of the Mandaue City Government and the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO), and representatives from the Mandaue City Jail male and female dormitories, among others.

Participants discussed the key components of the program which include the introduction of a digital platform called Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) Management Data designed to inventory and monitor the case status of PDLs, decongest jails, and facilitate efficient correctional facility management.

During the event, the IBP Cebu City Chapter presented Oplan Bilis Laya, a legal aid service aimed at assisting in the timely release of PDLs who have completed their sentence or are eligible for probation, pardon, parole, or early release.

The service is provided with the help of law students who work under the supervision of the IBP Cebu City Legal Aid Service Group.

The IBP Cebu City Chapter has established MOAs with Cebu law schools for their various initiatives.


Mary Grace Casano, executive director for legal aid of the IBP Cebu City Chapter core team, presented common challenges faced by courts and jail facilities that impede the Philippine justice system. The challenges include institutional barriers such as the lack of drug courts causing delays in court proceedings.

According to the IBP, there is an unbalanced number of drug courts even though 90 percent of PDL cases involve violations of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002.

There is also a shortage of judges, prosecutors, public attorneys, parole and probation officers, and court personnel.

Moreover, inadequate and substandard facilities and living conditions in jails, delays in drug dependency examination (DDE) due to the lack of accredited DDE physicians, the financial incapacity of PDLs, jail congestion and overcrowding contribute to the problem.

Jose Glenn Capanas, dean of the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance said based on Supreme Court (SC) records in 2023, approximately 70 percent or roughly 335 out of the 478 jail facilities nationwide are overcrowded.

Out of around 126,000 inmates in the country, 69.51 percent or around 87,500 are under preventive detention; while only 30.49 percent, or around 38,400 had been convicted and sentenced.

Quoting SC records, Capanas said around 87,203 out of the 126,000 inmates nationwide are facing charges related to illegal drugs, while 39,144 have non-drug-related cases.

While the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) reported a drop in jail congestion (367 percent in 2023) compared to 600 percent in 2018, Capanas said the country’s jail congestion rate has remained relatively high.

Therefore, there is a need for collaboration between judges, jail personnel, local government units, and other stakeholders to lower congestion, he said.

The SC defines preventive detention as the temporary confinement of an alleged suspect in jail or prison while undergoing investigation or trial and awaiting final judgment.

Mandaue jail

Over at the Mandaue City Jail (MCJ), Jonathan Baltar, superintendent of the male dormitory, said out of around 1,506 male PDLs, 406 persons were under preventive detention as of Tuesday, March 5.

Shela Serrano, superintendent of the MCJ female dormitory, also reported that 87 out of the 126 female PDLs were under preventive detention.

In 2015, the MCJ was ranked as one of the most congested jail facilities in Central Visayas with a congestion rate of 1,701 percent, according to the BJMP

Its male facility, originally designed to accommodate around 95 inmates, hosted around 1,000 male inmates at the time, while its female dormitory which could accommodate only around 22 PDLs catered to about a hundred female inmates.

According to court officials, the main reason for the slow disposal of cases was the lack of trial courts to handle the large volume of cases in Mandaue City.

There are only three Regional Trial Court (RTC) branches in Mandaue City compared to 22 in Cebu City.

Mandaue City RTC Branch 83 Executive Judge Alan Garciano said they are implementing a new system to expedite the release of PDLs who have served their maximum sentence.

The system involves acknowledging the release of the PDLs without need for a court order, as long as jail personnel can verify that the PDL has indeed completed their sentence.

“The court is informed of the release seven days before the PDL’s release, as stated by the Office of the Court Administrator Circular No. 201-2022,” said Garciano.

To help decongest the MCJ, the Mandaue City Government has built a wider jail facility with a larger inmate capacity.

In September 2023, the MCJ male dormitory moved to its new location in Sitio Dunggoan, Barangay Basak which significantly improved their congestion problem, Baltar said.

However, PDLs at the female dormitory have yet to transfer from the old MCJ facility in Barangay Looc to Barangay Basak as the new area for the female dormitory remains swampy.

Serrano said as soon as an embankment is built, the transfer would take place.

The new MCJ facility has an ideal capacity of 280 inmates for its male dormitory and 40 inmates for the female dormitory. / HIC


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