ILOILO – Jamming the cell phone signal at the Iloilo District Jail (IDJ) in Barangay Nanga, Pototan town is not the solution to the smuggling of illegal drugs and other contrabands into the prison facility, according to Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member Matt Palabrica. It only covers up the incompetence of jail guards to secure the IDJ, he stressed.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) started using cell phone signal jammers at the IDJ in June this year to prevent inmates with mobile phones from making outside contacts for possible criminal activities.
If anything, according to Palabrica, the use of cell phone signal jammers exposed flaws or weaknesses in law enforcement and prisoner containment at the IDJ.
“The personnel of the BJMP are perhaps incompetent and ill-equipped to deal with confined criminals. They have not effectively stopped the entry of banned cellular phones,” said Palabrica.
He also raised the possibility that jail guards and personnel may be allowing illegal drugs and phones slip into the prison facility for some consideration.
Palabrica said signal jammers at the IDJ were also inconveniencing Barangay Nanga residents living nearby.
“Residents within the 300-meter radius of the facility cannot send text messages or make phone calls or use the internet adequately. The main center of the barangay which is 100 meters away is severely affected, too. Official communication to other government agencies, especially in emergency situations, cannot be conducted 24/7,” lamented Palabrica.
In short, he said, the phone signal jammers were creating “economic and social distress to residents.”
Palabrica urged the local offices of concerned government agencies – National Telecommunications Commission, Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and BJMP – to draw up a plan to secure the IDJ but at the same time relieve Barangay Nanga residents of the inconvenience caused by the signal jammers.
“This matter has serious implications on the economic and social life of residents in this barangay. They cannot optimize their livelihood activities or stay in contact with families and relatives elsewhere. Life nowadays is so dependent on cellular communications,” he stressed.
The people of Barangay Nanga, said Palabrica, should not be made to suffer from the incompetence of IDJ jail personnel.
“Signal jammers are not the answer to the nagging issue of drug or contraband control and apprehension. The answer lies in the integrity and competence of the leadership and personnel of the BJMP,” said Palabrica.
Acting on this concern, the SP invited IDJ and BJMP officials to a “question hour” on Nov. 12 at the Provincial Board session hall, Iloilo provincial capitol./PN