GENERAL SANTOS CITY – At least 200 inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDL) of the city jail here have been released in the last two months in line with the government’s efforts to decongest overcrowded jails amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Jail/Supt. Peter Bongngat, city jail warden, said Thursday the PDLs qualified for early release as determined by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), in coordination with the local courts.
He said most of the freed inmates were senior citizens and those with light or bailable offenses.
The jail management started the processing of the release of qualified since June based on a directive from the BJMP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he said.
The facility, which is situated in Purok Lanton, Barangay Apopong, currently houses around 1,400 male and female inmates, with 50 considered as high profile.
Bongngat said the release of the PDLs was a huge relief for the facility, which was previously reported to have a congestion rate of around 300 percent.
He said it boosted their efforts to keep the jail free from Covid-19 and improve the well-being of the inmates.
The official assured that they were strictly implementing various control measures to prevent the spread of the disease into the facility.
“We transformed two cells into isolation facilities for newly-committed inmates and those who attended court hearings,” Bongngat told reporters.
He said the visitor privileges remain suspended but PDLs may talk and virtually see their families through the electronic or “e-dalaw” system.
Several local courts have started implementing online hearings to reduce the exposure of the inmates outside the facility, he said.
“Our inmates are very cooperative and they understand our situation with the pandemic,” he added. (PNA)