Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged Senate leaders to prioritize the passage of measures aimed to address the congestion problem in different detention facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the coming 18th Congress.
“We urge our Senate leaders and the other members of the upcoming 18th Congress to quickly address the congestion and inhumane condition of our jail facilities. If not quickly solved, it may put the health and lives of inmates, who are presumed innocent until proven guilty, in danger,” said De Lima, a staunch advocate of human rights and social justice.
De Lima issued the call in reaction to the Commission on Audit’s report calling out the BJMP over the inhumane conditions and overpopulation in its prison facilities. In its report, COA noted the congestion rate in the country’s jails decreased to 439.48 percent in 2018 from 612 percent in 2017.
However, While there was a significant drop in the congestion rate, COA insisted that the figure is still way high in terms of BJMP’s own operations manual and the United Nations’ standards on the treatment of prisoners.
The lady Senator from Bicol has committed to refile several of her prison reform measures in the upcoming 18thCongress to help the BJMP address the rampant overcrowding and inhumane conditions in detention facilities nationwide.
In December 2018, De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 2130 establishing prison reform and restorative justice in the country’s correctional system to make it more effective in the administration of justice and effectively preparing inmates towards reintegration to make them productive members of society.
She also filed SB No. 1879 seeking to integrate the management of the country’s jails and prisons under one agency tasked to provide better treatment and rehabilitation programs for all detainees and prisoners.
The lady lawmaker also sought a thorough probe into the current state of jails and penitentiaries all over the country as she filed Senate Resolution No. 97.
Sadly, all of De Lima’s efforts went for naught as her measures and resolution gathered dust in the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, chaired by Sen. Richard J. Gordon. “Let’s set aside politics and personal issues and put the welfare of our detainees at the forefront. Unahin muna natin ang kapakanan ng ating mga bilanggo dahil sila’y may karapatan din para sa makataong pagtrato,” said De Lima.