COMMENTARY: Fix of our provincial jails

April 7-13, 2011

Davao del Norte provincial warden Darius Sawan has his practical proposal of converting the prisoners’ human wastes to a biogas submitted to provincial authorities. That could beat indeed the jail’s particular fuel problem. But as to the cost of the building up a biogas machinery tapping the jail’s septic tanks as well as the cost of its maintenance, we don’t know yet of it by how much. Sawan’s practical proposal though ought to be considered as an environmental and cost challenge of the Davao del Norte provincial government given the measly per capita food subsidy to the inmates, at P50 per head per day, which is being threatened to be swallowed up by the escalating cost of wooden fuel.
Besides partaking the problem of congestion of inmates while Davao del Norte’s jailing facilities and compound are still being shared with the inmates under the funding and care of Compostela Valley provincial government since the 1998 division as its own provincial jail building and compound have yet to be materialized in Barangay Cabidianan, Nabunturan, the Davao del Norte jail authorities largely reel from other problems caused by limited budget.
Jail problems grow more and complicate as there is more entry of inmates than the exit or release of them. But these are more acute on the part of Compostela Valley, which has only one Regional Trial Court resulting to the snail-paced disposition of cases of inmates and prisoners. In the end, we have this adage served in tincan platter to our inmates and their families- justice delayed is justice denied. That’s sure for the Comval inmates, who are to be dangerously ferried from Davao del Norte to Nabunturan each time their cases are heared in the solo RTC sala of Judge Hilarion Clapis Jr. The judge is no Superman. He proclaimed such three years ago when he had yet over 3,000 backlog cases to be disposed of, while each of the 6 RTCs in Davao del Norte averaged only to have some 500 backlog cases, and what now when we are seeing a heightening daily rampage of crimes perpetrated in criminals riding in motorcycles.
This problem on the scarcity and high-priced wooden fuel facing our provincial jails may seem to be a micro, but since this directly assaults the meager food subsidy and ultimately the stomachs of those put behind bars for penalty and reformation, our provincial Capitols must urgently act on this before it would be too late- when our prisoners are already fed with a bran, like pigs they are, as the food subsidy is completely swallowed up by the high prices of wooden fuel. Verily, this problem feeds for a revolt of sort inside. Is there such ticking bomb, wardens? (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)

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