South Cotabato

South Cotabato governor orders revamp at drug-laden jail

Rommel Rebollido

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South Cotabato governor orders revamp at drug-laden jail

Prison authorities and inmates during an inspection in a South Cotabato prison facility in August 2021.

South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center

Reshuffling order comes after a fresh round of surprise drug tests that show more inmates positive for substance abuse

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. on Friday, March 3, ordered a revamp at the provincial jail in Koronadal City, following a new drug incident involving 11 inmates.

The reshuffling of guards and personnel at the capitol-run South Cotabato Detention and Rehabilitation Center (SCDRC) would take effect on Monday, March 6, announced Tamayo over local broadcaster Top Gun Radio in Koronadal City.

Tamayo’s move came after public criticisms about the widely perceived lousy management of the provincial government-run prison facility.

It also came after a fresh round of surprise drug tests on Wednesday, March 1, that showed 11 more inmates positive for substance abuse.

That more inmates tested positive for drug use just baffled the clueless jail warden, Lory Celeste. 

Several inmates have previously tested positive for drug use in February.

It was unclear if the revamp would affect Celeste.

South Cotabato residents have expressed their disappointment, and called for the resignation of Celeste. 

Vendor Lizanette Abas said the inmates clearly have no respect and fear of the jail warden and his guards.

Tamayo said they were investigating two jail guards who were identified by inmates as the ones who hand-carried the drugs. 

The name of the two guards have already surfaced in previous investigations.

But Tamayo has ordered a similar investigation in 2022. He and Celeste also warned erring prison guards of sanctions, but nothing substantial has been made so far.

He said jail authorities need to implement drastic measures to really prevent illegal drugs from being sneaked into the SCDRC.

Tamayo also said he was planning on turning over the prison facility to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) because of the unabated drug activities inside the facility.

The BJMP runs another detention facility in Koronadal City, which is relatively smaller compared to the SCRDC which has around 2,000 inmates.

Meanwhile, Celeste said he has created a “task force” composed of 70 inmates to help him out.

The inmates, he said, were tasked to keep an eye on illegal activities inside the jail. 

Celeste said the inmates, all trusted and handpicked by him, were grouped into three.

He said his trusted inmates would serve as his eyes and ears. –

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