ComVal jail probed

PNP taking seriously NPA allegation of drug activity inside facility
AUTHORITIES are set to investigate the Compostela Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center on the allegation of the New People’s Army that there’s rampant illegal drug activity inside.

The issue of illegal drug trade inside the detention facility surfaced following the abduction of Jose Mervin Coquilla, a provincial jail warden, outside his house in Panabo City around 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 23.

“The police are going to investigate the allegations of the NPAs, however, the immediate rescue of Coquilla is our priority,” Supt. Antonio Rivera, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 11.

The crisis management committee and the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Coquilla was formed a day after Coquilla’s abduction.

But Rivera does not discount that the allegation of the NPA could be mere propaganda to justify the warden’s abduction.

On Dec. 26, Ka Aris Francisco, spokesperson of NPA- Comval-North Davao South Agusan Sub-regional Command, in a press statement said that “Coquilla was taken into custody by the NPA in order to subject him to an investigation to determine his individual culpability with respect to the complaints lodged against him before the People’s Democratic Government by jail inmates and their families.”

The NPA also claimed that Coquilla and the other guards are allegedly beating the prisoners.

“He allegedly imposes strict and inhumane regulations for visiting families who are forced to talk to their loved ones while behind bars. But he allegedly turns a blind eye to inmates who were caught using illegal drugs, and to jail guards who were involved in ferreting drugs inside the prison cells,” Francisco said.

“Coquilla’s negligence, corruption and other related criminal acts mirror the recently exposed tacit endorsement by the high officials of the GPH New Bilibid Prison of the scandalous and extravagant lifestyle of wealthy inmates and druglords inside the GPH prison,” he added.

However, Coquilla is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and as such, is being treated leniently and humanely by the NPA custodial force, for as long as guerrilla conditions warrant, the rebel leader added.

“The NPA’s arrest of Coquilla should not be made a justification for any retaliatory acts against political prisoners. This is notwithstanding the fact that the complainants are regular prisoners themselves, thus demonstrating Coquilla’s sheer unpopularity in his turf,” Francisco said.

Meanwhile, the NPA assured the family of Coquila that he is being treated well.