Drug offenders seen to overcrowd SouthCot jail by yearend

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 6 July) – Due to the intensified drug operations in South Cotabato, inmates are congesting the provincial jail here, with the facility expected to house more than its capacity at the end of the year as authorities vowed to step up the war against drugs.

Juan Lanzaderas Jr., chief of the South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center, said the facility is currently housing at least 1,451 inmates.

From January to March 2017, there were 1,318 detainees at the provincial jail, which has a capacity of 1,500 inmates, he added.

“We are expecting 1,800 inmates at the end of the year, mostly on drug-related offenses,” Lanzaderas said in a statement.

Of the 1,451 detainees, he said that 1,343 are males and 109 are females.

The congestion rate at the provincial jail increased by 27 percent to 212 percent in the second quarter of the year from 185 percent in the first quarter, he said.

Lanzaderas attributed the increase in the number of detainees to the anti-drug operations conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Philippine National Police.

“Most of our inmates are accused of violating the anti-drug law,” he noted.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an all-out war against drugs after he assumed office last year.

Lanzaderas said that due to the growing number of inmates, they have requested the provincial government for additional personnel, a regular infirmary to check on the health condition of the inmates, and better lighting system to secure the detainees.

Governor Daisy P. Avance Fuentes said the provincial government will request the Department of Justice to fast track the disposal of cases to lessen the number of inmates at the provincial jail.

Earlier, the governor sought the help of the Diocese of Marbel, headed by Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, to address the drug problem in the province.

They forged a partnership for the “Pastoral Accompaniment of Illegal Drugs Users and Pushers,” (PAID-UP), a program initiated by the diocese, for the moral recovery of “Surfacing Personalities Involved on Drugs” in the province.

The PAID-UP program, which was launched by the diocese in partnership with the Police Regional Office-12, was designed to “Christify the illegal users and pushers to be responsible, responsive, and disciplined citizens of the country who commit to the promotion of the common good especially the poor people.”

Fuentes lauded the Diocese of Marbel for helping in the rehabilitation of surfacing drug personalities in the province.

“We must admit, even us do not know what to do with the huge problem facing us. We are happy the church is here to help us.” Fuentes said.

The program is comprised of daily prayers, weekly activities, monthly gatherings, seasonal activities, family counseling, and family enrichment encounters, among others. (MindaNews)