November 29, 2023

■  Jane B. Cadalig 

The speedy disposition of cases helps in addressing overcrowding in jails.

As far as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology is concerned, the continuous trials adopted by the courts have contributed to the improvement of congestion rates in jails.

At the Baguio City Jail male dorm, which has a congestion rate of 127 percent, Jail Warden Sr/Supt. April Rose Ayangwa said the speedy disposition of cases and other factors help in decongesting the jail facility.

The other factors are lowering of bail bonds and good conduct time allowance that allows reduction of sentence to persons deprived of liberty who demonstrate positive behavior.

The City Jail male dorm has 349 residents, according to Ayangwa.

BJMP-Cordillera Assistant Director Elizabeth Garceron said the 127 percent congestion rate may seem dire, but she added the situation of PDLs in the city is still better compared with other facilities in the country.

“In other areas, you can only see the heads of the PDLs due to overcrowding. Here at the City Jail, at least you can still see the painting on the walls,” she said.

Prosecutor Phillip Cesar Castel of the City Prosecutor’s Office said the circular from the Department of Justice, which authorizes the prosecutors to move for the dismissal of cases that are not active or those without witnesses or evidence has helped address overcrowding in jail facilities.

Baguio City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Rufus Malecdan, Jr.  and Municipal Trial Court Branch 3 Judge Jeanylyn Isip-Fukai said judges now hold continuous trials and summary procedures and are ordered to comply with the timetable ordered by the Supreme Court to allow the speedy disposition of cases.

“Our role is to help in the speedy disposition of cases and we now have to follow the timetable given by the Supreme Court. It’s good that it contributes to addressing congestion,” Malecdan said.

Fukai said with the Supreme Court timetable, the dates on when evidence should be presented are identified, which helps in the disposition of cases.

In terms of the cases of PDLs at the City Jail, violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act remains on top of the list.

For the male dorm, Ayangwa said 187 of the 349 PDLs have drugs cases followed by rape and homicide.

At the female dorm, Jail Warden Joan Bacayan said 40 of the 66 PDLs have drugs cases followed by estafa with 13 and illegal recruitment.

The BJMP observed the National Correctional Consciousness Week from Oct. 22 to 28.