MANILA, Philippines– The Department of the Interior and Local Government said Thursday the Commission on Elections has approved its request to place all provincial jails in the “15 areas of concern” under the poll body’s watch during the remainder of the election period.
DILG said Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II’ recommendation dated May 6 was approved by Comelec in an en banc resolution Wednesday.
The 15 provinces earlier declared as areas of concern were Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said his office will direct the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to exercise supervision and control of the facilities, with the assistance of the Philippine National Police, if necessary.
Roxas said he made the request due to intelligence reports which claim that there have been “numerous” instances where inmates were released during the election period to serve as private armies of unscrupulous individuals and politicians.
“In fact, in the province of Masbate alone, we are reminded of the 1989 killing of Masbate City Mayor Espinosa Jr. which, based on intelligence reports, was perpetrated by inmates and jail officers from the Masbate Provincial Jail,” Roxas said.
In addition, intelligence reports also showed that the 1991 murder of Masbate Rep. Jolly Fernandez was attributed to an inmate of the same correctional facility, he added.