Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. vows to conduct surprise drug tests in the jails managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

“I will personally go to our jails and I will be conducting surprise drug testing of BJMP personnel and PDLs in those jails,” said Abalos during a command visit at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology National Headquarters (BJMP-NHQ) on Tuesday morning.

“Magpapa-urinalysis ako sa mga jails. So I’m warning each and every BJMP warden and personnel, kapag may nagpositive, then it means na may nakapasok na droga sa mga jail facilities natin,” Abalos added.

The DILG chief issued the warning in light of the controversies arising in relation to drug lords operating in jails.

“Sometimes there are rumors that some big-time drug lords are operating in jails themselves. Ang issue dito ay communication. Paano sila nagkaka-contact sa labas? We need to cut their communication. They use phones to conduct their drug trade. So we need signal jammers to stop their communication outside,” said Abalos.

In addition to random drug testing, the DILG Secretary also wants PDLs to undergo medical screening and physical exams prior to their admission to jails.

“Kung pwede tayong magconduct ng test para sa TB (tuberculosis), test para sa HIV at hepatitis para sa PDLs, mas mainam kapag magawa natin ito. After all, at risk ang greater population sa loob ng mga jails kung may infected na individual,” said Abalos.

Data, as of June 30, 2022, shows that the BJMP houses a total of 131,193 PDLs in 477 jails nationwide. This translates to a 387% congestion rate with 337 jails congested.

“Mas mabilis ang infection kapag siksikan sa facilities natin. And now we have the problem of Monkey Pox. So what I want is for us to come up with a memorandum circular on the prevention and response of the BJMP in relation to Monkey Pox,” said Abalos.

He added that given the problem of congested jails with a total of 18,696 jail personnel guarding more than 131,000 PDLs, the Jail Bureau should think “out of the box” in coming up with solutions.

“Kung ganito talaga ang situation, let’s think out of the box… Why not enter a deal with LGUs for a usufruct? One of the determinants of whether or not an area is rich or poor is the number of assets that the LGU has, so talagang hesitant ang LGU mag-donate,” said Abalos.

Usufruct is a legal right accorded to a person or party for the temporary right to use and earn income or profit from the owner’s property.

The DILG Secretary on Tuesday conducted a command visit to the BJMP National Headquarters to discuss updates about jail congestion, BJMP manpower and drug testing in jails.

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