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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

WHAT’S wrong with the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC)?

Problems continue to hound the IRC particularly the entry of illegal drugs, deadly weapons and other contrabands.

Reports from the Iloilo capitol and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) point to an inmate and a jail guard as the alleged drug traffickers in the IRC.

PDEA sources said Provincial Guard 2 Ritchelleu Tupas serves as runner of the inmate who is running the drug trade inside the jail facility.

PDEA operatives also spotted Tupas, who is a distant relative of Iloilo Gov. Niel D. Tupas Sr., in the vicinity of Brgy. Bakhaw, Mandurriao, which is tagged as the illegal drug haven of Iloilo City.

Gov. Tupas yesterday dismissed PG2 Tupas from service not because of his involvement in illegal drugs but because of his prolonged absence sans official leave.

The illegal drug trade in the IRC hugged the headlines anew after two inmates – Jobert Balboa and Cris Talamor – fought over a transaction.

Balboa said he wanted to collect money from Talamor as payment for the shabu which the latter bought.

Balboa even surrendered a sachet of suspected shabu to the IRC guards.

Days after the illegal drugs issue surfaced, more than 800 IRC inmates mounted a noise barrage to complain poor management of the jail.

Chief among the inmates’ plaint, and a perennial concern at that, is the poor quality of food served to inmates despite the multimillion peso budget allocated to the jail facility.

This year, the provincial government set aside P14.6 million for the IRC inmates’ food alone.

The meal plan of the IRC caterer, SLP Canteen, was very mouth-watering.

For breakfast, the menu ranges from rice with egg, rice with dried fish, rice with hotdog, rice with sautéed eggplant, rice with sardines with miswa noodle, rice with corned beef with diced potatoes and yes, rice with ham.

Monggo with pork, laswa with hibe, red beans, pinabket, ground pork with kalobay and pechay, chicken head and papaya and pancit was supposed to be served for lunch.

The dinner course consists of bam-e, dinuguan, chicken, fish paksiw, pork paksiw, pork menudo and fried fish.

SLP Canteen is also the concessionaire of the provincial capitol cafeteria. The caterer provides the IRC food through bidding every three months.

But the discovery of beriberi inside the jail middle of this year showed that the inmates were eating something else.

The inmates complained that they eat tasteless soups, badly-cooked rice and rotting fish.

IRC Warden Soteo Gardose had asked for additional budget for the inmates’ food allowance which is only P40 a day.

Gardose requested the Sanggunian Panlalawigan to increase the food allowance by P10, making it P50 daily, to provide sufficient and nutritious food to the inmates.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

BAD food and “unfair treatment” forced inmates of the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan, Iloilo to mount a noise barrage Wednesday morning.

The more than 1,000 IRC inmates vented their ire on Warden Soteo Gardose and jail guard Mayflor Cepeda.

The inmates complained that the IRC management scrapped the privilege to be with their family when they celebrate their fiesta on November 22, Christ the King Day.

They also riled at the constant changes on the schedules of conjugal visits.

The inmates also called as unfair the penalties imposed on them when they fail to master the dance steps for their upcoming presentation during their fiesta.

Those who fail to follow the dance steps are put in isolation cells or bartolina. The IRC inmates are trying to replicate the dancing detainees of Cebu by practicing their dance routine.

They also accused Cepeda of pocketing donations solicited using projects for the inmates.

As regards their food, the inmates said they are served tasteless soups and fish. There are also days when they subsist on knighting but pancit only.

Gardose denied the inmates’ claims saying he already allowed their families to join them on the eve and during the fiesta.

Daily conjugal visits are still in effect at the IRC but Gardose said the relatives of inmates must follow certain rules, particularly on the entry of items for the detainees.

As regards the penalty for inmates who don’t know how to dance, Gardose said they observe due process before penalizing them.

“Cepeda once recommended three-day isolation of two inmates for failure to master the dance steps but after the investigation, I lowered the penalty to one day only. These penalties are not absolute,” Gardose said.

Cepeda, who is in charged of the IRC rehabilitation program, said over Bombo Radyo that she only penalized inmates who turn rowdy during practice.

She also denied allegations of graft and corruption leveled by inmates against her.

Gardose said he will investigate the accusations against Cepeda.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan, Iloilo is grappling with marital and extramarital problems of jailguards and inmates.

Atty. Soteo Gardoce, IRC warden, said he modified the rules on conjugal visits following complaints of extortion and mistreatment from relatives of inmates.

A certain inmate named Nene is accused of berating wives who go on conjugal visits to their husbands detained inside the IRC.

Nene, who is allegedly romantically linked to an IRC jail guard, assists jail guards in issuing conjugal visit slips to the inmates’ wives.

Because of her purported relationship with the jail guard, some visitors are afraid to complain in the open against Nene’s behavior.

Gardoce said he responded to the complaint by assigning a jail matron who will assist female visitors.

The IRC warden also ordered an investigation on allegations that conjugal fees are charged on visiting wives.

Gardoce said he also restricted male guards from going inside the cells of female inmates. He said personally saw guards “visit” women detainees, the reason for policy changes.

There are also times when an inmate’s wife and his “other woman” go on a visit at the same time.

Gardoce said these encounters usually lead to quarrels inside the jail facility between the wife and the lover.

“We are doing policy changes to address these sensitive problems,” he added.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

TWO committees of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo recommended to the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan to take measures to protect the health of inmates.

The committees on appropriations chaired by Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico and health and sanitation chaired by Board Member Macario Napulan made the recommendations after probing the incidence of beriberi and other ailments of IRC inmates.

Macario said they ordered IRC Warden Soteo Gardoce to submit a report to the SP regarding food management at the jail.

The SP also directed the General Services Office to review the P14.6-million contract of the IRC food caterer which also operates the provincial capitol cafeteria.

The Provincial Health Office was also asked to draft and issue policy recommendations on the IRC’s sanitation program.

On top of this, the SP recommended that the IRC hire the services of a nutritionist who will keep tabs of the inmate’s food.

During the SP probe, the committees discovered the “unpalatable and innutritious” food served to inmates, contrary to the meal plan prepared by the IRC caterer.

During his ocular inspection of the jail, Napulan said several inmates suffer from severe nutritional deficiency.

Symptoms such as swollen stomachs, legs, faces and enlarged hearts suggest the critical nutrition problems of the inmates, Napulan said.

The IRC management had asked the SP to increase the food allowance of IRC inmates which is only P37 daily.

Beriberi or thiamine-deficiency is a degenerative disease of the nerves caused by a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine and marked by pain, inability to move and swelling.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo 

AN inmate of the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) is facing another drug case after the recovery of dried marijuana leaves inside his bag.

Ricardo Campos, 50, a native of Brgy. Poblacion East, Oton, Iloilo, has been in detention at the IRC for allegedly peddling drugs.

Campos attended the hearing of his case Thursday morning at the Iloilo Hall of Justice.

When Campos returned to the IRC in Pototan, jail guards Elvert Guides and Johnny Chiva inspected his bag inside his cell and found several bricks of suspected dried marijuana leaves. The Pototan police will submit the dried leaves to the PNP Crime Laboratory to verify if these are indeed marijuana. They may also file more drug charges against Campos if the lab test proves that he possessed marijuana.

How Campos managed to sneak in marijuana inside the IRC remains a mystery.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) is awaiting the order of the court to send to the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) inmates who are suffering from mental problems.


Atty. Soteo Gardoce, IRC warden, said of the 37 inmates examined by doctors of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), 16 were confirmed to have mental problems. The others are undergoing further evaluation.


The latest inmate diagnosed with mental problem due to depression last month is a rape suspect.


Gardoce said the inmates-cum-patients are isolated in eight cells to prevent them from mingling with other inmates.


“They might beat other inmates because of their condition. Worse if they get beaten by other detainees, so we have to isolate them,” Gardoce said.


Gardoce said they cannot send the inmates to the NCMH in Mandaluyong City in Metro Manila sans court orders.


The IRC warden said the trials of the inmates suffering from mental problems are suspended because of their condition.


“For the meantime, the provincial government is spending for their treatment until they are brought to Mandaluyong City,” Gardoce added. 


Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said the doctors of WVMC should submit their report to the courts so they can send the inmates to NCMH.


Tupas said he summoned Dr. Jose Mari Fermin, WVMC medical director, to discuss the conditions of the inmates.


Some of the inmates can barely stand because of the lack of exercise and exposure to the sun.


Gardoce said they will try to give the isolated inmates sunning and exercise privileges.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


ASIDE from beriberi, inmates of the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan, Iloilo are also suffering from depression leading to mental woes.


Governor Niel Tupas Sr. said in an interview with Bombo Radyo that 40 IRC inmates are suffering from mental problems.


Tupas said they are having a hard time bringing the inmates to the Regional Mental Health Center at Brgy. Rumbang, Pototan because of lack of permission from their respective families.


Tupas said the relatives of these inmates don’t visit them, reason why the IRC management cannot get clearance to bring them to the hospital.


The governor said the stricken inmates are isolated from other detainees.


Dr. Patricia Grace Trabado, Provincial Health Office chief, said depression and extreme sadness are some of the factors why inmates suffer from mental problems.


More than 50 prisoners were brought to the Iloilo Provincial Hospital (IPH) last month after complaining that they feel weak and their feet swelling.


Dr. Prim Parcon, IPH chief, said the inmates suffered from Vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency, also known as beriberi.


Beriberi deficiency is a degenerative disease of the nerves caused by a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine and marked by pain, inability to move, and swelling.

By Tara Yap


ELEVEN prisoners of Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Nanga, Pototan were hospitalized due to what local health officials believe to be caused by deficiency in vitamin B.


Dr. Prim Parcon, chief of the Iloilo Provincial Hospital, said the prisoners were taken to the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) after complaining of body aches, swollen feet, and some who couldn’t walk.


Of the 11 cases, Dr. Pacon said two prisoners are in slightly serious condition. 


However, he was quick to point out that not all of the 11 are Vitamin B deficient as lab results are still on-going.


The hospital chief also said that the prisoners are now undergoing medical treatment. 


The eleven prisoners who are currently confined in the hospital are Gosue Gabayeron, Bibot Arsua, Rogelio Paragon, Rex Espinosa, Merlito Ellana, Rex Arou, Joey Camino, Ricky Castete, Rosene Gonsales, Danny Artemo, and Allan Mahilum. 


Atty. Soteo Gardose, warden of the IRC, disclosed that measures are being taken. 


Gardose said the canals are being checked to see if stagnant water is present.  Also, personal materials and other paraphernalia that are attractive to rats have been taken out of the prison cells to maintain cleanliness.


Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada said new programs are on the works to ensure the health of the prisoners. This includes turning a portion of the rehabilitation center into a fishpond and a garden where vegetables could be planted.  This is also to augment nutritious food for the prisoners.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan, Iloilo has a new warden.


S/Supt. Ricardo dela Paz, Iloilo provincial police director, turned over the management of the IRC to lawyer Soteo Gardoce who once headed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).


Dela Paz headed the IRC for 1 year and 6 months.


Dela Paz has been asking Governor Niel Tupas Sr. to designate a new IRC warden so he can focus on the Iloilo Provincial Police Office.


Under his administration, dela Paz said he was able to address problems inside the IRC such as meal allowance for the inmates, health, spiritual needs and potable water supply.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


ARE assassinations and robberies being hatched inside the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) in Pototan, Iloilo?


Officials of the jail facility denied the report even as they assured that they monitor the movements of high profile inmates.


Retired police superintendent Roberto Nufable, technical consultant of the IRC, denied intelligence reports that robbers and guns-fore-hires detained in the multimillion jail are coordinating their hits with associates outside of prison.


Police intelligence reports said high profile IRC inmates regularly receive visitors who act as runners of alleged robbery and assassination plots.


Even the alleged plot on the lives of board member Jett Rojas and Ajuy Mayor Juancho Alvarez (see related story) was also said to be hatched inside the IRC.


Sr/Supt Ricardo dela Paz, concurrent IRC warden and Iloilo provincial police director, said they have noticed that suspected assassins inside the IRC have regular visitors.


“Maybe these are new recruits who do their biddings outside of prison,” he added.


Nufable said they have adopted measures to prevent notorious IRC inmates from engineering crimes even in detention such as segregation of high profile inmates.


IRC guards are also monitoring the smuggling and use of cellphones inside prison cells, Nufable said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


AFTER the hospitals equipment scam, the Iloilo Sangguniang Panlalawigan is set to investigate the purchase of plants for the landscaping of the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center façade in Pototan, Iloilo after the Commission on Audit (COA) found alleged irregularities in the transaction.


Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said they will base their investigation on the COA Audit Observation Memorandum dated November 4, 2008.


The memorandum signed by Haydee Pasuelo, COA audit team leader, and Maria Glenda Lim, COA regional cluster director, covers the purchase of landscaping plants worth P144,750.


The purchase was requested by the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) headed by Ildefonso Toledo while the supplier was Cleafar Enterprises.


The COA memorandum found out that the purchase order (PO) for the landscaping plants was “paid in full despite the incomplete delivery in the amount of P127,950.”


COA inspection of the deliveries of the plants conducted October 27, 2008 and November 4, 2008 showed there was partial delivery amounting to P16,800 only.


But per acceptance and inspection report (AIR) from the PAO, there was complete delivery February 14, 2008.


The COA said Toledo confirmed there was indeed incomplete delivery because the IRC area to be planted with the 150 square feet of Bermuda grass, 200 sq ft of Carabao grass and other ornamental plants was not yet ready.


“The area has yet to be filled with garden soil. All other plants included in the PO were also not delivered. It appears that there was an advance payment to the supplier in the amount of P127,950,” COA observed.


Section 88 of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines strictly prohibits advance payments on government deals unless the goods and/or services were fully delivered by the supplier.


While the transaction happened in 2008, the budget was taken from the reenacted 2007 budget of the PAO for agricultural products worth P1.5 million.


The COA also found out in the bidding documents that owner of the winning supplier, Cleafar Enterprises, is a certain Ma. Cecilia Buenconsejo with business address at Brgy. Inagdangan Norte, Zarraga, Iloilo.


But in the delivery paper and receipt of payment, charge invoice and official receipt, the proprietor of Cleafar was identified as Jose Benjamin Pama with office address at Commission Civil Street, Jaro, Iloilo City.


Suplico said the discrepancies in the proprietorship and business address of the winning bidder “smells fishy.”


“Why is it that the owner and business address of the supplier in the bidding documents were different from the delivery and acceptance papers? We must find out what happened. And where are the rest of the undelivered items?” Suplico said.


The vice governor, who is at odds with his uncle Governor Niel Tupas Sr., also questioned the proposed landscaping of the IRC.


“What we need at the IRC are barbed wires, not ferns, grasses and ornamental plants. It would have been better if they bought vegetable seedlings for the inmates to plant and eat,” he added.


COA has issued a notice of disallowance on the landscaping plants transactions because of the incomplete delivery.


Among those cited as liable are General Services Office chief Ramie Salcedo and Provincial Administrator Manuel Mejorada for certifying that the delivery was complete; PAO chief Toledo for certifying that the items delivered conformed to the specifications and quantity stated in the purchase order; Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for approving the deal; Buenconsejo as payee; and Danny Baldemor and Rosario Catalan.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo


THE Civil Service Commission (CSC) altered the decision of the Iloilo provincial government to sack a jail guard for the shooting to death of a man in Badiangan, Iloilo six years ago.


In Resolution No. 081982 promulgated November 4, 2008, the CSC modified the April 12, 2005 decision signed by Governor Niel Tupas Sr. finding Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC) Provincial Guard 2 Eliazar Elisan guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service and dismissing him from government service.


The commission instead indicted Elisan for simple neglect of duty and suspended him for three months without pay.


The resolution was signed by CSC chair Ricardo Saludo and commissioners Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza and Cesar Buenaflor.


Elisan, who was represented by lawyer Dennis Ventilacion, was charged with the administrative case before the Office of the Governor for the shooting to death of Alex Collado during a benefit dance at Brgy. Cabanga-an, Badiangan last December 31, 2002.


The shooting incident happened around 11pm when a commotion broke out between a certain Allan Ahumada and Angot Adorador inside the basketball court where the affair was held.


Elisan at that time was off duty and stayed at the sari-sari store of Collado some 15-20 meters from the scene of the commotion.


Punong Barangay Vivencio Villa then asked Elisan to pacify the fracas which the latter did by going near the scene and fired his caliber .45 service pistol thrice.


Collado was hit resulting to his death. Alejandro Adorador was also wounded in the shooting.


After Collado’s wife filed a formal complaint, Tupas ordered a fact-finding investigation on the incident the result of which became the basis for the filing of administrative charges against Elisan January 23, 2003.


On the same date, Tupas also placed Elisan under 60-day preventive suspension.


The hearings on the case stretched from January 2003 to January 7, 2005. On April 12, 2005, Elisan was found guilty and ordered dismissed from service.


The IRC guard filed a motion for reconsideration June 6, 2005 but it was denied. He then filed his appeal with the CSC June 25, 2005.


The commission said Elisan’s act of firing his gun during the commotion “does not constitute grave misconduct as the firearm of Elisan was aimed directly or directed not to a particular person, being warning shots only, but to the air.”


“It was not proven that Elisan fired directly at Collado. Neither was it proven that the bullet from his firearm caused the wounding of Adorador. Thus, the negligent act that can be attributed to Elisan was the indiscriminate firing of his gun, which although not shown to be the proximate cause of the fatal incidents, was nonetheless uncalled for and dangerous considering the many people present during the incident and possibility that the bullets fired may hit somebody once the same fall back to the ground,” the CSC resolution said.

May 2020

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