Jails running out of funds to feed 150,000 inmates
As if prison food is not punishment enough.
With the spike in the number of detainees locked up for drug offenses, the 150,000 inmates in over 400 jails run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) nationwide may have to go on a starvation diet for the last quarter of the year.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Friday warned that the agency’s food budget was expected to run out by mid-October, with more detainees sharing on the meager allocation for inmates’ meals every year.
Recto pointed out that this year’s P2.32-billion BJMP food allowance was allocated based on an inmate population of 106,280.
But the number has already soared to more than 140,000 by June 30 this year. Each inmate is allotted P60 daily for meals.
The number of inmates locked up in BJMP-run detention facilities is expected to breach the 150,000 mark by the end of the month, he said.
“We are supposed to run humane jails, not hunger camps,” said Recto, adding that the government had no choice but to augment the bureau’s budget for next year.
Citing data from the BJMP, the senator said the ballooning inmate population was due to the “steady stream” of arrested users or peddlers of illegal drugs.
Two in three inmates locked up in BJMP-run jail facilities have been charged for violating the 1992 Comprehensive Drugs Act, he said.
Over 97,300 inmates are being held for drug use, possession, sale and the manufacturing of drugs as of June 30.
“That’s more than six Araneta Coliseums-full of mostly alleged “shabu” (crystal meth) sellers or users,” Recto said.
He said the government should expect a sharp increase in the BJMP population as the administration’s war on drugs continued.