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DILG Secretary echoes PBBM's ‘call for unity’ during BJMP XII visit

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (PIA) -- Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. echoed President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s “call for unity” during his recent visit here to lead the blessing and inauguration of a 30-cell jail building-male dormitory of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Region XII.

Acknowledging that “jail congestion is the root cause of many ills and problems” in detention facilities, he expressed the hope to be able to resolve it as he called for unity from every sector.  

This is “because we acknowledge that what we want to achieve requires the collaborative efforts of different sectors of society,” he said, reiterating President Marcos Jr.’s call for unity based on a “whole of nation approach” to achieve such a goal.  

Citing latest data, he said congestion rate at BJMP facilities in the country is pegged at 387% from 612% in 2017, believing that the new jail building would help decongest the number of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) in jail cells.

“Huwag na tayong lumayo, dito sa General Santos City jail-male dormitory, ang noo’y 442% congestion rate bababa sa 250% sa pagbubukas ng bagong pasilidad na ito. Bagama’t malaking ginhawa na ito sa ating mga PDLs, malayo pa rin ang mga numerong ito sa gusto nating abutin para mas maisaayos ang ating serbisyo,” Abalos said.

For the secretary, “humane treatment” of PDLs can never be compromised, saying that the BJMP XII’s jail building-male dormitory “is definitely a step in that direction.”

“It is another proof of the wonderful things that we can achieve when we all work collectively and in unison—from the national level down to our LGUs and other stakeholders.”

He also emphasized the importance of a private sector collaboration especially on the areas of health care services and livelihood and educational assistance for PDLs.

Abalos said that issues arising from jail congestion are not just problems of the government or the BJMP but by everyone as well.

If not duly addressed, he said jail congestion may lead to other problems such as lack of food, facilities, and other basic needs that can trigger even more conflicts and violence inside detention cells. 

Meanwhile, BJMP XII Regional Director JCSupt. Simeon Dolojo Jr. said that while construction of the newly-inaugurated jail building is near completion, a lot of work still need to be done, acknowledging that “we have been long afflicted with the dilemma of jail congestion.”

“Constructing new jail buildings and expansion of the existing facilities are among the tangible solution that we can do as jail officers to alleviate the living conditions of the PDL under our custody,” he said.

He disclosed that the two-jail building projects have a total of 38 cells with a fund allocation of P35,870,708.86.

The amount includes the construction of 3 units, 2-storey, type A jail building with 2 units, 8 cells; 1 unit, 12 cells under a budget of P27,520,708.86 and a 2-storey 8-cell jail building amounting to P8,350,000.00.

Dolojo then cited the “untiring service” of jail officers in the entire region, which he attributed to have fueled BJMP's progress and fired up its passion to serve the 3,262 PDLs.

“I am dignified to say that the 805 strong jail officers of this region are reliable in their sworn duty and loyal to their hard-earned badge,” Dolojo assured Secretary Abalos, the guests, and other participants attending the event.

After his BJMP visit, the secretary also attended the 22nd National Tuna Congress to give his message of support to the tuna industry in General Santos City.

Addressing the 600 participants of the congress, he lauded the city's tuna industry for being resilient and still successful despite the ill effects brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

He assured the organizers of the event that he is one with them especially in advocating for the advancement and welfare of the entire industry.   

The National Tuna Congress which started on Sept. 1-2 formed part of the celebration of the city’s 24th Tuna Festival which culminated on September 5.

Together with his Undersecretary for Public Safety Serafin Barretto Jr., Secretary Abalos also met with City Mayor Lorelie Pacquiao who personally welcomed him at the General Santos City Airport apart from being accompanied by DILG XII Regional Director Josephine Cabrido-Leysa and staff. Also with him were Napolcom Regional Director Rodel Calo and key officials of the Police Regional Office XII. (CTA/PIA SarGen)

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Catherine Apelacio

Information Officer III

Region 12

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