Almost all 700 inmates in DavNor, Comval provincial jails have undecided cases

NOV 25-DEC 1, 2010

Comval jail overloaded with 540 inmates; DavNor has only 206

By Cha Monforte

Of the combined over 700 inmates of the provincial jails of Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley only a few know how long they would be in jail as almost all have cases not decided yet by courts.

“There is even an inmate here who is already serving 11 years while his case remains to be undecided,” said Davao del Norte Provincial Rehabilitation Center assistant provincial warden Marilyn Erulon in an interview.

In the country’s penal system, provincial jails are supposed only to incarcerate people who committed crimes whose sentence is three years and below. Those sentenced three years above will to go to Davao Penal Colony.

Female inmate Suzette Lupranco, 43 years old and Panabo City resident, for one, said she is languishing in jail for six years already after their house was raided and found out by the police to have 1.3 grams of shabu allegedly owned by her husband, who is out of jail. She was in their house when the raid was made. Her case would give her a maximum 12-year imprisonment.

Lupranco though is given freedom to move around within the compound to help jailers in housekeeping chores, she being considered as one of the trusted inmates for good behavior.

On the other hand, Fernando Magbanua, 50 years old, told the Valley & City Chronicle that his homicide case was already closed of hearings last June but he still have to hear of his court decision while he is already in Davao del Norte provincial jail for over eight years already.

Magbanua, also considered good-behavior inmate, is tapped as the kitchen incharge of Davao del Norte PRC.

The Compostela Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center is apparently overloaded with inmates with a head count of 540 as of Tuesday, Nov. 23.

On the same date the Davao del Norte provincial jail has only 206 inmates.

The two provincial jails have been operating side by side with each other about half a kilometer north of the Davao del Norte Capitol building at Barangay Mankilam, Tagum City.

When the big Davao del Norte province was divided into two provinces with a carved out Compostela Valley in 1998, separation of prisoners by province was effected and the latter forged an agreement with the other province to use its jailing structures while it has yet no provincial jail of its own. The agreement has already lapsed in term.

Comval’s 540 inmates are housed in two un-partitioned, un-celled “brigada” buildings while Davao del Norte house its 206 inmates in one bigger building with 15 cells, each of which is variably loaded with number of inmates ranging from 15 to 30.

Each “brigada” building of Comval PRC has a supposed capacity of keeping 150 inmates only. A “brigade” is the Comval inmates’ group under a “mayor” housed in one building.

Davao del Norte’s jail building, on the other hand, has a capacity of keeping 250 inmates, Erulon said.

Of Comval’s 540 inmates, 28 of whom are considered political prisoners- captured communist rebels like Ka Jinggoy who are mixed with inmates who committed varying crimes.

In a separate interview, Comval provincial warden Jose Marvin Coquilla said that the provincial government is already constructing two prison buildings with cell partitions in a 4-hectare land in Barangay Sta. Maria in Nabunturan and the physical transfer of the provincial jail might be effected next year.

He said that to address congestion of its own inmates Comval PRC needs five prison buildings each with a capacity of keeping 120 inmates.

He added that construction of two more buildings is eyed by the provincial government also next year.

Recently, the Justice of Wheels (JoW) has processed only 22 inmates who are now being released one after another upon receipt of final release order from courts.

On the other hand, the Davao del Norte Provincial Rehabilitation Center 206 detainees, four own whom are female and two are minor.

Last November 17-18, the Supreme Court’s Justice on Wheels made stopover in Tagum and Panabo cities and processed 22 Davao del Norte inmates potential to be released earlier of their prison terms.

Comval, on the other hand, has 20 inmates processed by the Justice of Wheels, 13 whom have already dismissed cases, 6 are on probation and 1 has been found out to have already served a sentence due to him.

“But it’s only a few of them,” said Erulon.

Coquilla also said that there might be a hitch for the release of some of those already processed by the Justice on Wheels as relatives of victims have claimed to have not been informed of the decision while others have revived complaints at the fiscals’ offices.

Both Erulon and Coquilla said that releases of those processed by the Justice on Wheels have been ongoing and they are releasing them based on the final release order issued by the courts. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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