High-powered signal jammers installed inside Bilibid Building 14

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Inmates inside the national penitentiary are able to continue their illegal transactions by using cell phones. To cut off inmates' communication from their contacts outside, authorities are now using two military-grade high-output power signal jammers.

Both units will be used for the New Bilibid Prison's (NBP) Building 14, where high-profile drug convicts are detained and separated from general population.

The first jammer was installed at the facility's holding area on Tuesday. The second jammer will most likely be installed at the facility's watch tower.

The jammers were locked inside a steel casing. This prevents anybody, including NBP personnel, from tampering with the switch or the socket installed underneath the unit. The key will be handed over to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for safekeeping.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Enan Orceo said they hope the jammers can help minimize illegal transactions inside the Bilibid.

"We are hoping na kung hindi man totally ma-eradicate yung transactions using the cellphone, at least ma-minimize and prevent, kasi ang technology natin halos everyday nagbabago. Baka yung 4G ngayon hindi na 4G tomorrow," he said.

[Translation: We are hoping the jammers can minimize and prevent transactions using the cellphones, if we cannot fully eradicate it. Technology is evolving daily. The 4G today may not be 4G tomorrow.]

One military-grade signal jammer can cut off cellular signals within a twenty-meter radius. So two of these will be able to cover the whole area of Building 14, which measures 1,200 square meters.

The high-powered jammers made in South Korea can block various signals, including GPS, 3G, 4G, WiFi, and radio frequencies.

The units, worth ₱2 million each, were supposedly donated by supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte.

DOJ wants more jammers

Aside from the Bilibid's Building 14, the DOJ also wants jammers installed in the prison's maximum compound, where 16,000 inmates are detained.

Duterte earlier said he is planning to put more cellphone jammers in penal facilities.

Related: Duterte says he underestimated the problem on drugs

Authorities say these equipment are crucial as inmates become more creative in smuggling gadgets inside.

Since the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force officers took over the NBP two months ago, they have discovered cellphones, pocket wi-fi units, and other contraband stuffed inside random things, such as coolers, figurines, and slippers.

SAF troops are temporarily taking over the prison's security as NBP personnel undergo retraining. But Orceo said there is still no guarantee that the inmates will behave accordingly once the SAF stops manning the Bilibid.

"Kailangan marami pang gawin para maging efficient and effective yung mga personnel namin," he said.

[Translation: Our personnel have to go through more training to be more efficient and effective.]