NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
Congestion of jails amid this pandemic alarmed Rep. Edgar Chatto who urgently called DILG Secretary Ed Año to seek urgent measures to ensure that inmates will not get contaminated with the virus.
In a teleconference yesterday, Rep. Chatto bridged Executive Judge Leo MoisesLison to the DILG secretary after the former expressed concern on the worsening congestion at the municipal lockup jails since the six major detention centers manned by the Bureau of Jail Management & Penology (BJMP) stopped accepting new inmates if they will not first undergo Rapid Test.
Rep. Chatto also informed Supreme Court Administrator Midas Marquez of the concern of the Bohol detention centers.
DILG Sec. Año called BJMP Regional Chief, Gen. EfrenNemeno to check on the congestion concern sounded by the Bohol congressman.
The BJMP regional director called Judge Lison few hours after the report reached the office of Sec. Año.
The Bohol judiciary official presented two options to address the concern.
First is to request the 47 town mayors to shoulder the cost of the Rapid Test of inmates in order to get accepted at any of the BJMP detention facilities, namely, the Bohol District Jail, Tagbilaran City Jail and the detention centers in Carmen, Talibon and Ubay.
The other option is for BJMP to provide a facility within the jail compound where new inmates can undergo the required 14-day quarantine in case there will be no government unit to shoulder the Rapid Test.
Chief Inspector Reinan Torreon, warden of the Bohol District Jail confirmed to the Chronicle that they are not accepting new Person Deprived of Liberty (PDL) or inmates if they can not present a result of a Rapid Test.
Torreon, however denied reports that there are inmates suspected contaminated with the virus.
He said that as part of their protocol, the 70 jail guards and personnel are presently undergoing a 14-day quarantine inside an unfinished building with 10 detention cells. He said this building can also be ideal as an isolation area for new inmates to undergo their 14-day quarantine in case they will not be able to get a Rapid Test prior their detention.
There are 624 inmates which is an excess of the district jail’s capacity of 450 inmates. He confirmed that there was a time that the district jail was overcrowded with more than 1000 inmates. However, several drug suspects were released after availing of the plea bargaining agreement.
Presently, there are 590 male inmates accommodated at 25 cells while 34 lady inmates are in two cells, Torreon said.