460 Davao City Jail PDLs cast votes

Photo by Iona Mendoza
Photo by Iona Mendoza

PERSONS deprived of liberty (PDLs) of the Davao City Jail (DCJ) voted inside the jail premises on election day, May 9, 2022.

There are a total of 26 precincts under 12 clusters, wherein around 460 inmates, both male and female, were expected to cast their votes.

The biggest population of voters in DCJ is from the male dormitory, composed of 207 voters, 135 voters are from the female dormitory, and 117 from the annex population.

Based on the latest data from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Davao, the 460 PDLs in DCJ are included in the total 1,090 registered PDL voters in Davao Region. Of this, 967 were able to vote.

The remaining 123 PDLs that were registered but did not vote were either not found on the master list of Commission on Elections (Comelec) or were already released.

According to the spokesperson of the BJMP-Davao Captain Edo Lobenia, all qualified PDL voters are vaccinated.

“Hindi pwede bumoto ang mga hindi vaccinated (They cannot vote if they are unvaccinated),” he said.

The PDLs are accompanied by personnel of the BJMP-Davao at the Social Entrepreneurship Technology and Business Institute Inc. learning facility inside the jail compound where the voting rooms are stationed.

The PDLs are only allowed to vote for a president, vice president, one partylist, and not more than 12 senators.

Lobenia said the exclusion of local posts is implemented to avoid chaotic campaigning of local officials inside the jail premises.

“Baka kasi magkagulo sa piitan especially sa time ng kampanya. Isa ito sa pinagbabawal ng Comelec at the same ng BJMP na ayaw namin mangyari sa loob ng piitan. Kasi magkakampanya si ganito ng mga local officials, magkakagulo (It may cause disorder inside the prison especially during campaigning. That’s what we do not want to happen. If a local candidate is allowed to campaign, it may be chaotic),” Lobenia told SunStar Davao.

In order for the inmates to have an idea of the background and platforms of their preferred candidates, Lobenia said the inmates were allowed to watch debates of presidential, vice presidential, and senatorial candidates within the jail facility.

The BJMP also has an information drive campaign per city jail, headed by the Community Relations Service Office, which will disseminate the qualifications of each candidate.

“They are actually knowledgeable enough... Pero sa BJMP naman hindi namin pinilipt ang mga inmates na iboto mo ito si ganito, walang ganon (But we at BJMP do not dictate the inmates on who to vote),” Lobenia said.

The PDLs who are allowed to vote should be detained in the city jail within six months or beyond. At the same time, only those who are not yet sentenced are allowed.

According to BJMP-Davao, during the satellite registration in DCJ, the inmates can either choose to have their registration transferred to DCJ or opt otherwise on the chance that they will be released or transferred before the May 9 elections.

Lobenia said it is important for the PDLs to feel empowered and exercise their right to vote.

“Sa BJMP kasi (We at BJMP), we encourage them really to be a registered voter kasi (because) they are undergoing trial, awaiting for final judgment so sayang yung vote nila (it will be a waste if they don’t vote),” he said. “The right to vote is actually a human right. Hindi ibig sabihin na nasa loob sila ng piitan, wala na silang karapatan bumoto (Even if they are imprisoned, it doesn’t mean that they do not have the right to vote).”

According to Lobenia, as of 2:15 p.m. of May 9, all PDLs were done casting their votes. The voting started as early as 6 a.m.

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