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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, November 9, 2019
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Bigger jail facility sought


The warden of the jail facility in Dumaguete City is hoping for a bigger space for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), 80 percent of whom are facing illegal drug-related charges.

Maj. Jonairy Sitchon, warden of the Dumaguete Detention and Rehabilitation Center (city jail), which is under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, said these cases are either pending in court or promulgated.

Some PDLs, he said, are ready for transfer to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facility in Muntinlupa City or Abuyog, Leyte.

He said the jail congestion started after President Rodrigo Duterte launched his administration's all-out campaign against illegal drugs.

The situation has been like this since he assumed as city jail warden last January, he added.

Sitchon said the city jail is now packed with PDLs, even as he said the facility can only accommodate about less than half of the current number.

“The city jail is now overcrowded by as much as 333 percent,” Sitchon said, noting that there is a total of 504 PDLs as of latest count.

The capacity of the city jail is more or less 300, he said, and this is just for the male dorm.

Sitchon admitted that even as the BJMP is regularly transporting PDLs, they cannot keep up with the number of new inmates that are committed to the city jail.

“For every one person being taken out of jail, three or more are being brought in,” he said.

At least 10 PDLs are being transferred each month to the BuCor facility in Metro Manila, but with limited budget from the agency, sometimes the transfer would slow down, he added.

“We are lucky we are given a PHP200,000 assistance from the city government but that is only enough for one trip,” Sitchon said.

Every trip of 10 PDLs requires 10 BJMP jail guards and an extra escort, he added.

He thanked the Diocese of Dumaguete led by Bishop Julito Cortes and some donors for the renovation of a building that previously housed the female dormitory, and which can house 40 PDLs.

About 80 PDLs are in that living quarters to date, he said.

This is a big help to de-clog the congestion at the city jail, Sitchon said, but it is still not enough.

“We need more sleeping space for the PDLs, some of whom even sleep in hammocks now because of the lack of sleeping quarters,” he added.

Sitchon hopes that the national government will allocate a budget for additional sleeping quarters at the city jail as well as donations from civilians.*PNA


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