ILOILO JAIL REVAMPED – 31 BJMP personnel booted from posts over drug claims

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THE Bureau of Jail Management and Penology regional office relieved 31 officers of the Iloilo District Jail in Pototan, Iloilo following alleged illegal drug operations by inmates. The warden and assistant warden are also facing relief. (Photo courtesy of RMN-Iloilo)

THE Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Region 6 relieved 31 personnel of the Iloilo District Jail (IDJ) in Barangay Nanga in Pototan, Iloilo following allegations that an inmate is running the illegal drug trade behind bars.

Senior Superintendent Rex Delarmente, BJMP-6 regional director, said the 31 officers are custodial personnel of IDJ.

Personnel assigned to the custodial service unit conduct the headcount and monitor the movement of inmates; check and monitor jail visitors; and conducts operation greyhound (inspection), among other things.

In short, custodial personnel have direct contact with the inmates.

Delarmente said they pulled out personnel from other BJMP-run facilities such as the Iloilo City District Jail (ICDJ) in Jaro, Iloilo City; Dumangas District Jail in Dumangas, Iloilo; and Guimaras District Jail to replace the relieved officers.

In turn, the 31 BJMP personnel were reshuffled to the three district jails.

Delarmente said they also recommended the relief of Senior Inspector Abner Zamora, IDJ warden, and his assistant, Inspector Henry Harder.

But he explained that their recommendation requires approval of the BJMP central office.

The warden’s relief must also be approved by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

“And we’re just waiting for the approval to go on with Senior Inspector Zamora and Inspector Harder’s relief,” Delarmente said.

 

DRUG LINK CLAIMS

Delarmente admitted that the 31 personnel were relieved (and they also recommended the same for Harder and Zamora) following reports that illegal drug transactions are being run within the IDJ.

He mentioned in particular that the reshuffling stemmed from the arrest of three lady pushers in Iloilo City on April 30, 2017.

Senior Superintendent Christopher Tambungan, Police Regional Office (PRO-6) deputy regional director for operations and the chief of the PNP Regional Drug Enforcement Unit (FDEU), confirmed that the three suspects claimed that they received instructions from an IDJ inmate.

Police estimated the value of suspected shabu seized from the three women at more or less P2.6 million.

Delarmente said they investigated the allegations of the three women.

“But during our investigation, we didn’t get a single statement from the inmate and personnel,” he said.

All of the IDJ personnel who were investigated sang one tune: denial.

BJMP-6 investigators also reached out to the three arrested lady pushers but they all refused to sign any sworn statement.

“They won’t stand to what they said on the media,” Delarmente said.

When asked about the reason for the women’s refusal, “maybe they want to cover-up so that the new players (in the illegal drug trade) who are still out would be spared from investigation.”

The BJMP-6 chief said it could be a ploy to mislead police investigation.

Meanwhile, Delarmente said he moved for the relief of IDJ personnel “to give way for the conduct of an independent and impartial investigation.”

He said he asked the BJMP national office to send personnel to avoid impressions of whitewash on another round of investigation.

But the BJMP national headquarters has yet to act on the request.

 

OTHER CONTROVERSIES

On May 8, 2017, four IDJ guards were ordered relieved from their post but the reason for their sacking remains unclear.

Seven jail guards immediately took over their posts at IDJ.

While the IDJ was mum on the relief, sources said it could be related to a recent greyhound operation at the jail facility where mobile phones were seized from several inmates.

A check on the seized phones led to the discovery of the names of the four relieved jail guards in the contact lists.

It remains unclear if the owners of the phones are facing drug-related cases or not.

Tambungan’s also claimed that illegal drug transactions thrive inside the jail because of the alleged rent-a-phone modus operandi perpetrated by inmates and their jailers.

He alleged that jail guards asked for P1,000 to P5,000 for an hour of cellphone use.

PDEA-6 also claimed that it is monitoring a drug personality at the BJMP Male Dorm in Brgy. Ungka, Jaro, Iloilo City for allegedly running illegal drugs deals right inside the jail.



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