Iloilo City jails to set BJMP standard

Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) chief, Jail Director Ruel Rivera, alongside Uswag Ilongo Party-list Rep. James Ang Jr., Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., and other lawmakers of Iloilo province, lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Iloilo City District Jail facility in Barangay Buntatala, Leganes, on June 6, 2024. (Joseph Bernard A. Marzan photo)

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan and Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-6 broke ground on June 6 on a P226.37-million facility complex that will house a new female dormitory for the Iloilo City District Jail (ICDJ) and six other related buildings.

The complex is expected to set a new standard for future BJMP facilities.

Funding for the project phases comes from Republic Act No. 11975, the General Appropriations Act of 2024.

Uswag Ilonggo Party-list Congressman James Ang Jr., a member of the House appropriations committee and chief sponsor of the funding, said total funding needed by the BJMP of the project is P581 million.

Ang said the remaining funds would be included in future appropriations.

The project located in a 2-hectare lot at Barangay Buntatala, Leganes, Iloilo includes the female dormitory (Phase I) and auxiliary buildings (Phase II).

The P72.14-million female dormitory aims to address overcrowding at the current facility located within the Iloilo City Police Office compound in City Proper, which was designed to accommodate 35 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) only.

With 430 calendar days in its contract starting April 19, the new dormitory is targeted for completion by June 22, 2025. The project contractor is Guimaras-based J.E. Tico Construction Co., Inc.

Phase II, which costs P154.23-million ,includes an administration building, visitors’ processing and visitation buildings, a kitchen, and a commitment building.

The contractor is contract with Pasig City-based Amethyst Horizon Builders and General Contractor and Development Corporation. This phase is expected to be completed by July 9, 2025.

While the current phases only includes a female dormitory, BJMP-6 Regional Director Jail Chief Superintendent Simeon Dolojo said the total land area has provisions for a future male dormitory.

This will involve transferring male PDLs from the current ICDJ Male Dormitory in Ungka, Jaro, Iloilo City.

Dolojo also mentioned that the Iloilo City government bought 2.5 hectares of land from the local government of Leganes. Adjacent to the jail facility’s site, a state-of-the-art office for BJMP-6 is also planned with funding from future appropriations.

Dolojo said the new facility could accommodate a total of 2,000 PDLs from Iloilo City, including both male and female populations.

“Our Iloilo City district jail is already congested, and we need to transfer it. The female jail in the Iloilo City Police Office is also congested,” he said. “This is a modern facility. Its design makes it an educational site for our detainees.”

The BJMP-6 director emphasized the shift from punitive measures to rehabilitation and reformatory programs.

“We aim to enhance the potential of PDLs so that they will be assets to the community,” he added.

BJMP Chief Jail Director Ruel Rivera called the project “historic,” noting it as one of the largest in the bureau’s history and his first major jail infrastructure project since taking over in March 2023.

“This project will become the face of the BJMP. From 2016, we have had less funding, but now this is the biggest appropriation release. This will be very beneficial for our Ilonggo PDLs as they will have more spacious facilities,” Rivera said.

The facility will also host livelihood programs in partnership with the Technical Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to help PDLs upon their release.

Former city councilor Lady Julie Grace Baronda, representing Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda, called the project “an effort that promotes social justice,” highlighting the male dormitory’s overcapacity of around 600 percent.

“As of May 2024, the Iloilo City District Jail Male Dormitory in Jaro is close to 600 percent above capacity. This strains the facility’s operations and those it serves. The new dormitory building is a welcome effort,” Baronda said.


On the same day, the provincial government received two new BJMP transport vehicles for the Iloilo District Jail Facility in Barangay Nanga, Pototan. Governor Defensor highlighted the collaboration of government officials in ensuring the rights and well-being of PDLs are upheld.

“We look forward to closer collaboration with the BJMP. We need to do more for our facility in Pototan,” he added.

Ang said the current transport vehicles for the province’s jail facility are outdated and pose risks during PDL transfers.

Rivera said additional transport vehicles for Iloilo and other regional jail facilities are also in the pipeline.


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