MALAYBALAY CITY – Inmates of the Malaybalay City Jail have opened savings accounts with the First Community Cooperative after attending the cooperative’s membership seminar in the jail premises, Jail Inspector Guy Jason Reyes, jail warden, said.
Reyes told Bukidnon News Sunday they have opened the opportunity for the inmate to learn how to save while behind bars so that when they go free, they will have something to start from.
The membership seminar was held on March 30, 2011 where 25 inmates and 13 personnel of the city jail registered to be members of the firm.
The City Jail, awarded most outstanding in the Philippines in 2010, has initiated livelihood programs for inmates.
Reyes said among those who earned from the livelihood projects, they will have a savings account in the cooperative.
“Before, visitors give money to the inmates, now it is the inmates who can be a source of money with the savings account,” Geffourd Doydora, 27, one of 20 inmates who so far have opened account. He showed to Bukidnon News his own “bank book” and those of the others who are yet to claim their copies.
As one of the inmates who has been designated as a trustee (an inmate that gains the trust of prison managers) he was assigned to help in the livelihood project of the jail.
The project was initiated by Reyes in cooperation with the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System.
Paul Sombilon, Ficco Malaybalay branch manager, encouraged the inmates to save their money through the cooperative so that while they are behind bars they can still make value of their money for future purposes.
He also encouraged the inmates to manage their finances.
Aside from the coop membership, Reyes said they have also trained the inmates on giving first aid, reflexology, and proper food handling, among the more recent trainings.
About 23 inmates completed 220 hours of training for reflexology, he added.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology has chosen the Malaybalay City Jail as the Philippines’ best for 2010, a citation that came 18 months after suspected members of the New People’s Army raided it and carted away arms, ammunition and radios.
Reyes told Bukidnon News then that the award is given to a jail that has provided quality
services to its personnel and inmates, which he considered a major deterrent to
jail breaks or escapes.
Reyes said he has employed five cardinal rules in the 260-inmate city jail including normal treatment of inmates, clean jail facility, landscaping and beautification, zero escape and special programs and services for the detainees.
He also cited that aside from zero escape, they were also able to achieve physical improvements and cooperation among the inmates.
He said getting the inmates’ cooperation means providing better services and opportunities for them to earn and learn.
Reyes said he made sure they could produce their own food such as root crops, fish like hito (catfish), and livestock such as goats and turkeys. Portions of the jail compound are being utilized as gardens, fishponds and grazing areas for this purpose.
He said they also initiated handicrafts like flower vases made of recycled paper, bracelets and other native accessories, and improvised lampshades.
He said he is presently arranging with a local exporter of industrial boots to subcontract a portion of their assembly line to the inmates.
Aside from livelihood projects, Reyes said he has also initiated an internal Alternative Learning System with the Department of Education.
“I want the illiterate inmates to learn so when they leave the jail they will be better individuals,” Reyes said.
He said he also welcomed missions and outreach programs of religious groups, which had been disallowed prior to his assumption.
He said the groups helped provide psychosocial, spiritual, and even medical and other support services to the inmates.
Reyes said the city jail today is very open to visitors and the general public.
He also attributed the changes to the support of the city government which poured in support after seeing his initiatives.
He said they are maintaining the jail like a retreat house or restaurant and urged the public to drop by in Barangay Patpat to see for themselves. (Walter I.Balane)