By John Noel E. Herrera
With the current cost of living and increase in prices of commodities, is P23 already enough for a meal?
That was one of the questions that members of the Committee on Justice, Good Government, and Human Rights of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo pondered during a hearing on the issues raised by some persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who staged protests at the Iloilo District Jail-Male Dormitory (IDJ-MD) in Pototan town recently.
According to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, the current daily budget per inmate is P70 or P23 each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
SP member Carol V. Espinosa-Diaz said the budget is not enough even as they are seeking an increase in the food budget for over 1,000 PDLs at the IDJ-MD in Barangay Nanga, Pototan.
“Wala pa kita sang exact nga gin-commit kon pila gid ang aton i-dugang but we will do it, madugang kita (budget), Diaz added.
(We didn’t commit an exact amount yet, but we will do it, and we will increase the budget.)
She also said that the PDLs don’t require fancy meals like lechon or spaghetti, but they deserve proper meals.
The SP may also pass a resolution urging the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Congress to increase the food budget of jails.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 6 also suggested that the provincial government design livelihood programs for PDLs that could augment their meals.
The CHR recommended that the vacant lot at the Iloilo District Jail can be used for the inmates’ backyard farming.
The SP will also coordinate with the Iloilo Provincial Agriculture’s Office for the vegetable seedlings to be given to the BJMP.
Another concern tackled in the hearing was the healthcare of inmates, particularly dental services.
“We lack dentists. We will see if we can have a dental health caravan for the PDLs to avail of free dental services,” Diaz said.
BJMP Region 6 director Jail Chief Superintendent Clint Russell Tangeres, Chief Inspector Denver Beltran, and CHR regional director Jonnie Dabuco were present at the committee hearing on Tuesday, Sept 6, 2022 at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol.
In August 2022, more than a hundred inmates held a protest on the rooftop of the Iloilo District Jail-Male Dormitory in Pototan, Iloilo.
The inmates displayed placards with the words, “Gutom na kami. Layas warden!” (We’re hungry. Leave warden!) to raise their concerns for better food ration and the relief of the warden, Jail Chief Inspector Norberto Miciano Jr.