DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 June) – Inmates at the Davao Penal Colony will now be able to get accreditation from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) if they work at the banana plantation within the DAPECOL compound.
Supt. Venancio Tesoro, DAPECOL director, said during the weekly press forum at Kapihan sa Davao in SM Monday that the agreement with Tesda will take effect Wednesday (June 15).
Of the 5,800 inmates in the facility, 1,200 are working in the penal farm. Seventy percent of DAPECOL’s 8,000-hectare compound is a banana plantation, jointly organized with Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation (TADECO).
The director said the workers will take a test from TESDA in order to acquire accreditation.
The certificate of proficiency can be used should they apply for jobs after they are released from prison. Tesoro noted that TADECO, as well as other grower companies near the area, absorbs released prisoners to work for them.
At present, the working inmates get a stipend of P250 per day, the same as the minimum wage for agricultural workers.
Women prisoners at DAPECOL are also involved in the farm. There are 200 women, and half of them have joined the ranks of farmers.
To be qualified to work in the plantation, prisoners must be assessed first by the classification board as to their health conditions and experience in farming.
Standard qualification points include the condition that the prisoner must be a minimum security prisoner, which means he or she must have up to one year’s stay at DAPECOL, or about to be released.
They should also not be residing within a 50-kilometer radius from the prison facility to minimize chances of escaping. Data from the Bureau of Corrections show that DAPECOL has a high number of escapees – 227 since year 2000. (JB Tingzon / MindaNews)