MANILA, Philippines – The detention cells afforded the three pork barrel senators probably do not have all the comforts of home, but they are surely more comfortable than all the rest.
Each cell comes with a ceiling fan, its own bed with a foam mattress, a small kitchen and a sink, and bathroom with toilet and enclosed shower. A far cry from the usual filthy, overcrowded, stench-riddled, rat-infested cells in the country’s jails and detention centers.
The cells were shown on Monday to members of the media, who were given a walk-through of the facilities at the Custodial Center of Camp Crame, national headquarters of the Philippine National Police.
Measuring approximately four meters by eight meters, these detention cells will temporarily be the new home away from home of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.
Each pork detention cell, numbering four in all, also has tiled floors, with cream-painted walls and white ceilings.
There is a sliding window with metal grills beside the door, but there is no provision for an air conditioning unit.
Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, PNP-Public Information Office director, said the facilities were intended for officers of the Headquarters Support Service (HSS) and the Custodial Center.
“Although these facilities are bigger than ordinary detention cells, let me point out that these are intended for our officers. But with the development, we had to adjust, convert and make way for the order of the court,” Sindac said.
He pointed out that these units will only serve as a temporary detention area for the three senators, since they will eventually be transferred to another facility.
Sindac further explained that, although the three senators are not considered “flight risks,” grills were put in place at each window, in compliance with regulations and standards of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Two bungalow-type structures have likewise been built to serve as administrative and processing offices.
“The structure for processing office could be used as visitors’ area,” he said.
A steel gate will be erected between the detention and processing areas to guarantee that visitors will not be able to enter the detention facilities.
At the moment, there are four layers of blue gates, each about 12 feet high, from the main entrance to the detention facilities.
Armed guards stand watch over the compound, which is also closed off with a barbed wire fence.
“Aside from the tower sentries, there are also ground personnel who will secure the area 24/7. There are at least two CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras installed in the facilities,” said Superintendent Mario Malana, head of the Custodial Center.
Those accused in the pork barrel fund scam will be allowed visitors from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily except on Friday, which is the day set aside for conjugal visitation.
Malana added that the center’s other facilities may be converted to accommodate 51 more of those accused in the alleged scam.
Sindac earlier mentioned that the PNP Custodial Center can hold 130 detainees, with only 70 spots filled, at present..
The list of those presently detained includes Abu Sayyaf Group bomber and financier Khair Mundos, who is wanted both by the Philippine and American governments for his supposed involvement in bombings in Mindanao; Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon; police officers involved in the 2013 Atimonan rubout case led by Superintendent Hansel Marantan; and the group of former policeman Rizal Ali who is accused of killing police general Eduardo Batalla during the Cawa-Cawa siege in Zamboanga City in 1989.