Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com
Local government units were empowered by RA 7160 to be independent. Part of it is to decide what to do with their funds, though guided by budget circulars. The depleted share of LGU’s for calendar year 2012 is a factor to consider if an LGU intends to save and spend judiciously the funds at its disposal. One measure is to turn-over facilities which can be manage by better and qualified people. I’m talking about jail management. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology is a partner and have the specific mandate to manage a jail facility. But why are there still provincial jails run by the local government, though it burdens their resources in millions of public funds. The undertone is too much to bear.
When the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology was created by RA 6975 in 1991 it has a clear mandate to manage district, city and municipal jails. Taking this as a cue, majority of local government units tapped the agency to manage their jails knowing that it will help them cost wise. The existing jail personnel were integrated, absorbed and given adequate training in jail management and penology thus transforming a niggard system as functional and responsive.
Doing this is up to the sleeves of a governor, for city and municipal jails detainees without delay are turn-over to BJMP manage detention centers. A clear example is the provincial jail of Sorsogon. Manned by twenty seven organic personnel with addition of contractuals to beef up its force, the cost of operating the facility runs as high as eleven million plus. This does not include the salaries of contracted personnels. The current personal services cost Php 5,067,624.43, maintenance and other operating expenses allocation is Php 6,461,334.13 and capital outlay got a Php 42, 000.00 fund. If the facility is manage by BJMP, Php 11,570.958.56 could have been save by the province since operation of the facility will then be in the account of BJMP. Only half of the organic personnel of the jail are qualified to be jail guards or have the appropriate training which is exasperating knowing that the facility is holding close to four hundred detainees of various offenses, such ratio will be reverse.
But the governor’s hand is tied for there are many that are employed in the provincial capitol assigned as beef up guards of the provincial jail who escort detainees during hearings tooting service firearms which could be a violation of the existing rules and regulations. Maybe among these untrained beef-up guards abuse of detainees rights could not be discounted and hard to tell what will they become when the governor decides to save its meager funds and let the BJMP manage the facility. Will it be a good political decision or a necessity to save and spend prudently the meager resources of the province.
The clear advantage if and when BJMP takes the helm it doubles the capacity of the provincial government to fund other projects and programs. It will be an outright savings, trainings will come with the transfer of authority, rounded management, increase in the salary of qualified jail personnel, lessen the burden of the office of the governor in personnel administration and it can isolate the use of detainees and jail personnel to meet the political desire of a political mind. Professionalism in the workplace will be seen. The drawback, others will lose their business in the transfer of management for daily market purchase fattens someone’s wallet and ballooned few stomachs, not to mention the idea of using detainees in cohorts with jail guards to commit crimes while included in the headcounts of detainees. Robberies, hold-ups, intimidation are sometimes traceable to the connivance of unprofessional jail personnel and its detainees.
Unsolicited advise, turn-over the provincial jail to BJMP, free yourself from the public perception that jail personnel and detainees sometimes becomes private armies, that firearms and ammunition’s are sequestered by political leaders during elections to increase their firepower and free yourself from the corruption committed at the facility.
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