Garcia promises to decongest overcrowded Cebu jail
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Speeding up decongestion of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. (CPDRC) will be among the priorities of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia. She told reporters during an inspection of the CPDRC on Thursday morning, July 18, that she would ask more public lawyers to take up the cases of the 2,525 detainees of the detention center.
The CPDRC has a capacity of 1,600.
While the prison is still over its capacity today, it is down from nearly 4,000 inmates last year after CDPRC Warden Reynaldo Valmoria asked for a moratorium on taking new inmates into the congested facility.
“We asked the courts not to send anymore inmates here,” he told reporters in an interview during the visit.
Garcia, who began her new term as governor earlier this month, said aside from getting more lawyers to handle inmate cases, she would prioritize rehabilitation programs. “We will refocus on the rehab part of this facility,” she told Valmoria during the visit.
Although she did not entertain questions from reporters, Garcia spoke to several of the inmates from the male and female wards, asking what cases they are facing.
Most told Garcia they were incarcerated on drug charges.
According to data posted by the CPDRC, 1,750 inmates are being detained on drug charges, 318 on murder charges, 53 on frustrated murder charges and 40 others for rape.
The jail had already surpassed its capacity by August 2016, only two months after Duterte took office and launched his anti-drug campaign. (READ: No more room in Cebu prison of dancing inmates)
That same year, about 10 inmates died due to cardiac arrest brought about by pneumonia.
It had also been raided several times in the past for contraband including illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, sex toys and cash.
This prompted Garcia to call for a congressional inquiry into CPDRC's management. (READ: Gwen Garcia seeks House probe into Cebu jail drugs)
Valmoria, however, says the jail no longer has problems with contraband.
"Last inspection, there was only one inmate who snuck in a cellphone," the warden said in Cebuanos.
Garcia boasts the dance program began as part of her reforms initiated during her first stint as governor from 2004 to 2013.
The inmates danced to a mix of Michael Jackson hits during the visit, returning to the music that brought the jail worldwide fame when it was posted July 2007.
As of this posting, the video has over 58 million views.
The prison began performing regularly for tourists after the video brought worldwide attention to Cebu.
While dance has continued as an exercise program even after the war on drugs began, the inmates no longer perform for tourists on a regular basis.
Garcia said that her focus during her new term will be on improving the facilities, rehabilitation programs – which include art and dance – and new-issue uniforms and shoes for the inmates.
“We just have a little more to do, but I need your cooperation,” she said. – Rappler.com