MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 6, 2009) – Philippine jail officials awarded medals to 15 people for their efficient safeguarding and transfer of 234 prisoners at the height of typhoon Ketsana that devastated many parts of the country.
The Medalya ng Kasanayan or the Efficiency Medal was awarded to officers of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and personnel of the San Mateo Municipal Jail.
Officials said the 15 officers and jail guards risked their lives and rushed to save the inmates after the prison was flooded up to its second floor. The town was among the areas submerged in flood. More than 300 people were killed in the typhoon that hit the country last week.
The award was given by Jail Director Rosendo Dial, the BJMP chief.
He said the San Mateo town in Rizal province was one of the areas badly hit by floods and the municipal jail, situated a few meters away from a river, was not spared. Flood inundated the jail which prompted the officers to transfer the inmates to the second floor.
“While in the second floor, the water continued to rise up to waist level which called for mass evacuation of inmates, transferring them to a nearby college amidst heavy downpour and raging waters from the overflowing river. Aided by ropes and tire interiors, the inmates swam towards safety. All inmates were secured with no attempts of escapes and not a single casualty,” he said in a statement.
Dial said the San Mateo jail officers deserve the award. “Their presence of mind and adherence to jail security measures during this calamity enabled the safety evacuation of the inmates. If it were not for their competent act, the situation could have catastrophic results, probably ending the lives of many inmates who could have been trapped inside their cells.”
“Because of their courageous act, these personnel will be considered for meritorious promotion,” he added.
Warden chief Godfrey Galigo said the evacuation from the jail facility was a great peril, both for the inmates and us personnel. “Incompetence on our part could mete us administrative sanctions that could result to suspension or dismissal from the service. However, as jail officers, it is our sworn duty to keep our inmates safe in all situations, even against our personal safety,” he said.
Policemen and fire officers who came to the rescue and helped in the evacuation of the San Mateo Municipal Jail inmates will also be given award by the BJMP.