Central Visayas to follow Jail Decongestion Program

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista

Cebu City, Philippines - A call for the creation of a jail monitoring mechanism.

The Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. (HLAF) proposed the establishment of a jail monitoring mechanism to facilitate the decongestion of jails to the Regional Development Council Development Administration Committee of Central Visayas Region (RDC 7).

Recognizing the contribution of HLAF in decongesting the jails in Metro Cebu, the RDC 7 Chairperson Governor Edgar Chatto of the Province of Bohol instructed the RDC Secretariat to explore the possibility of establishing a jail monitoring mechanism patterned after the HLAF program to promote decongestion of jails in the region.

During the joint meeting of the RDC and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) last December 11, 2015, HLAF briefed the councils on the HLAF’s program for the protection of the rights of persons under detention, which included jail decongestion, reintegration of ex- detainees and the training of barangay personnel on the protection of children.

RDC 7 approved the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to study the proposal patterned after HLAF’s Jail Decongestion (JD) Program.

In the meeting of RDC Development Administration Committee last March 3, the working group was presented to be composed of representatives from the five pillars of the criminal justice system, which are: the Philippine National Police, Office of the Regional State Prosecutor, Public Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Parole and Probation Admission, the Judiciary (Regional Trial Court), Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Law School and HLAF in the proposed establishment of a jail monitoring mechanism.

Last May 31, the TWG convened for the first time and HLAF presented the jail decongestion program and the proposal for the creation of a jail monitoring mechanism. The proposal was noted by the group and will be submitted to the Regional Development Council for consideration.  

For 15 years, HLAF’s JD Program has used a strategy wherein they conduct case follow- ups in courts and other relevant agencies for the most vulnerable but eligible inmates who are deprived of liberty and seeking early release. In 2014, the JD program was extended to Cebu and covered the Cebu City Male and Female Jails; the Mandaue City Male and Female Jails and the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.