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Friday, January 27, 2023

How Online platforms lift jail lockdowns

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon – WHILE the world is engrossed in celebrating Christmas, the atmosphere however, may not be as completely festive from the ‘other side of the fence’ for Persons Detained of Liberty or PDLs.

Thanks to the Jail Bureau’s “E-Dalaw” and “E-Burol” program, PDLs can now view on-line their loved ones not only during the holidays but as well as all year round.

Malaybalay City Jail Chief Inspector Shodji Labis in an interview with People’s Forum at the jail facility of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Pal-ing, Barangay Patpat this city, E-Dalaw and E-Burol was conceptualized when pandemic lock-downs suspended jail visitations to protect inmates from acquiring Covid-19.

E-Dalaw also serve to contact on-line their families outside of the jail facility while E-Burol allows a PDL to virtually participate in the funeral and burial services of a love one.

Both virtual connection programs evolved from “Tele-hearing” which was approved by the Supreme Court to facilitate virtual court hearings during the pandemic. Presently, face-to-face court hearings have resumed.

UNLIKELY ALLY

With the success of connecting PDLs to their families via on-line, it caught the attention of an international organization as an unlikely ally, the neutral and exclusively humanitarian mission organization of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

ICRC information officer Amer Hassan Sanggacala said, as part of the Jail Bureau’s humanitarian efforts for improved jail conditions, Malaybalay was one of the 150 jail facilities to receive mobile devices such as tablets out of the 300 tablets distributed in support of the government’s “E-Dalaw” project since 2020.

ICRC said the project gained momentum during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when it was hard for PDLs to contact their families outside of the jail facility made even more difficult by families who do not have access to digital technology either due to a lack of a cellphone or spotty internet signal.

“To help restore contact between detainees and their families and facilitate virtual court hearings, the ICRC has been supporting the government’s E-Dalaw and E-hearing programs by providing tablets and internet loads to places of detention,” Sanggacala said.

The ICRC’s goal is to provide over 500 tablets to nearly 200 detention facilities, in addition to phone and internet load to places of detention until 2023.

In 2022 alone, ICRC facilitated over 467,000 calls between PDLs and their families, 6,000 calls with lawyers, and at least 40,000 virtual court hearings.

VIEWING TIME

Malaybalay City Jail Chief Inspector Shodji Labis said, each PDL is given 5 to 10 minutes and can be extended if the queue of PDLs is short.

“Kung wala masyadong hearing or activity dito, ginagawa nating Monday or even Saturdays and Sundays,” Labis said of E-Dalaw viewing shedules.

E-BUROL

As to the policy on E-Burol, “The first requirement is for the family to have an internet connection. Then the PDL should request for E-Burol in order to know the viewing time,” Labis said.

He said, the BJMP allows a PDL to physically attend a funeral service upon a grant of a court order. However, the location of the funeral should be within 32kms to 35kms radius from the jail facility where the PDL is detained.

“But because of E-Burol, no restriction. They can (virtually) attend funeral and burial services even abroad,” Labis said.

When People’s Forum queried Labis about the supply of load cards or broadband subscription in order to sustain the program, he amusingly answered in general “Nakakahanap din. Minsan we cull out from our (jail personnel) pockets.”

E-SELLING

Community Relations Officer Jail Officer 1 Loma Vicera tandems with Welfare and Development Officer Jail Officer 1 Nina Tulabing in hosting the live selling of hand-made products by PDLs.

Aside from E-Dalaw and E-Burol, PDLs have resorted to Live Bazaar Selling via the jail unit’s Facebook page BJMP Malaybalay City Jail.

Community Relations Officer Jail Officer 1 Loma Vicera tandems with Welfare and Development Officer Jail Officer 1 Nina Tulabing in hosting the live selling of hand-made products by PDLs. The products range from paintings, beads and even perishable items such as langgonisa and chili sauce and they can be paid via the popular E-wallet GCash.

In their live selling segment during the celebration of the Community Relations Service Month, Vicera said PDL’s merchants have a wider reach of buyers in social media.

She said training PDLs on various skills including food preparation is one way to empower them which they can use as a form of livelihood once they are integrated back into the society.

RE-EMERGENCE

Jail Bureau Regional Director for Region 10 Jail Chief Superintendent Niel Ranoco Avisado, DSC in his speech themed “Re-emergence: Coming out into the world again” said, BJMP’s goals among which is to transform lives, restore families and rebuild communities has been profoundly met by the jail bureau’s digital innovations through E-Dalaw, E-Burol, Telehearing and even Live Selling.

Indeed, these digital innovations is a new idea fueled from the lockdowns. “That is re-emergence at its finest,” Avisado concluded.

(By Giovanni Flaviano/GAF)

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