Byron ‘Old way of the whip’ won’t work in CPDRC

Posted on February 26, 2012


WATCHING from the sidelines, Byron Garcia said he worried that incidents of violence in the Cebu provincial jail would escalate.

“Something is wrong with the jail management,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Byron Garcia

“Pero dili na ko gusto manghilabot ana kay lisud na. Dili ko gusto ug another friction (with the governor),” he said. (But I don’t want to intervene. I don’t want another cause of friction.)

Garcia said he noticed that trouble started after he was let go in 2010 as Capitol security consultant by his sister, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

If the series of violence continues, it will only get worse, he said in an interview.

“Nag sunod na ang mga incidence of violence sa CPDRC. Why was there a death (last year’s killing of an inmate) instead of them proceeding to a higher level?”

Byron said he was ready to offer his assistance for free if the Provincial Board wants to know how he introduced reforms, including dancing as a major part of inmate rehabilitation in 2005.

Garcia said that when he was managing CPDRC, he stopped using the “whip” or an authoritarian approach on inmates.

Instead, he organized inmates in each cell and set up a council of elders to settle disputes among themselves The council was disbanded after he left, and with it a venue for dialogs , he said.

“When we were still overhauling the system applicable pa na (the old way) but now that inmates have tried discipline with compassion, by using the whip again, I don’t know if that will be effective,” he said.

Jail management is back with Governor Garcia and a consultant Jose Marie Gastardo, who was tasked to oversee CPDRC last month.

“They now rule the jail using the old way, turning 360 degrees from what I taught before,” Byron told CDN.

Byron said he governor made the right decision in suspending the dancing inmates program and that it was her prerogative how to manage the jail.

“They should stop if they do not know how to implement the program. Ibalik lang na ug kahibaw na sila mo implement sa program which allowed the dancing inmates to bring glory to Cebu,” he said.

Byron’s consultancy contract was not renewed by the governor in 2010.

This came amid questions of the accounting of financial donations to inmates and commercial endorsements, particularly after Sony Entertainment filmed an exclusive dance video with CPDRC inmates for Michael Jackson’s “This is It” movie.

No audit, however, was made public and Byron was never charged.

The 2010 elections also saw brother and sister on opposite camps supporting different presidential candidates.

Since he left, Byron said, incidents of violence and malpractices have been reported at the provincial jail.

An inmate was beaten to death by fellow detainees last year. Another inmate escaped in October 2011. This month, a jail guard was suspended for giving “special favors” to a detained ex-mayor.

Byron first got involved with CPDRC as head of the team which planned the transfer of inmates from the old provincial jail along M. J. Cuenco Avenue in Cebu City to its new location in barangay Kalunsan in 2004.

Byron said he started to experiment with the dancing inmate program on March 2005.

Under his watch, Byron said, CPDRC had no episodes of violence.

“The dancing inmates program is not just about dancing. Its philosophy is rehabilitation.” /By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief Of Reporters

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