A ray of hope for Cebu City Jail inmates

DIFFERENT courts in Cebu have ordered close to 1,000 inmates at the Male Dormitory of the Cebu City Jail (CCJ) who are facing drug cases to undergo a drug test and a drug dependency examination (DDE) so they can avail themselves of the plea bargain program.

Supt. Renante Rubio, CCJ warden, said the tests will be administered at the halfway house managed by the Department of Health (DOH) in Barangay Carreta, Cebu City

The facility’s doctor will certify the degree of the drug offender’s addiction whether it is normal, mild or severe and submit the finding to the court, which will issue an order based on the doctor’s recommendation.

If the drug offender is deemed normal, he will be released and be made to go to a community-based rehabilitation center. But if his dependency is found to be severe, he will have to enter the drug rehabilitation center in the southern town of Argao, which is also managed by the DOH.

The catch

Rubio said the inmates’ background will be checked since the day he started using drugs up to the day he was placed in prison.

And even if the inmate tests negative for drugs and passes the DDE, he can’t avail himself of the plea bargain program without the doctor’s recommendation, the warden said.

If the court approves the release of the close to 1,000 inmates, more space will be available in the CCJ.

According to Rubio, 5,403 inmates are currently housed in the facility, which was built to hold 1,800 persons.

Meanwhile, the halfway house only administers the tests to 10 to 20 CCJ inmates per month, which Rubio lamented would take too long to accommodate the close to 1,000 inmates.

Because of this, he said he asked the new executive judge of the Cebu City Regional Trial, Macaundas Hadjirasul, and the DOH to train the CCJ’s six nurses so they can administer the tests to the inmates.

Under the new plea bargaining framework of the Supreme Court, those who admit to guilt and those who are facing drug cases whose punishment is not life imprisonment can avail themselves of the program.

Also eligible are those who were caught with less than five grams of shabu, marijuana, opium and other prohibited drugs and were charged with violating Section 11 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, with a penalty of 12 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine ranging from P300,000 to P400,000.

Those who were charged with Section 12, or possession of drugs, drugs paraphernalia and other drug-related items, and were meted a penalty of six months to four years in jail and fined P10,000 to P50,000 can also join the program. (SCG OF SuperBalita)

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