Can anyone live on P70/day?

Every inmate under the care of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s National Capital Region (BJMP-NCR) office has to subsist on P70 per day as food allowance.

That budget is for three square meals a day at BJMP-NCR jail facilities now serving as “home” for 31,778 persons deprived of liberty while under trial.

Officials and personnel of BJMP-NCR can dream of getting bigger budget allocations from the government, but in the absence of the prayed-for increases, being creative in providing for inmates is a must, they said.

According to Jail Inspector Midzfah Omar, all the inmates have to be fed equally as ordered by BJMP-NCR J/Chief Supt. Luisito Munoz to keep the peace.

Jail riots had been known to erupt in the past, including at the New Bilibid Prison managed by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), because of dissatisfaction with the food served.

BuCor’s jail facilities are for those that have already been convicted to serve time.

“Jail facilities under the supervision and control of BJMP-NCR are in normal and good condition. Meaning to say, peaceful, secure, and a positive environment is maintained,” he said.

BJMP-NCR jails are now less congested compared to five years ago. The numbers, however, are heart-rending.

“One example is the Pasay City jail with over a 1,000 percent congestion rate. In other words, the test of congestion depends primarily on the setting and peculiarity of a jail facility,” Omar said.

Inmates are known to make do with whatever space they can utilize especially when sleeping, like hanging hammocks or sleeping shoulder to shoulder with one another.

However, nothing beats decongesting jail facilities through the fast-tracking of the resolution of criminal cases for which the inmates found themselves behind bars, Omar explained.

The construction of new jail facilities is also a must like the one being erected in Quezon City, he added.

Likewise, another factor that needs improvement, Omar said, is the jail officer-inmate ratio, presently pegged at one officer per 12 inmates, far from the ideal 1 is to 3 ratio.

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