Dispatch from Crame No. 617: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement regarding the Duterte regime’s aborted plan of constructing a state-of-the-art facility that could address severe jail congestion


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I’ve repeatedly said that severe congestion is the root cause of the many ills besetting the New Bilibid Prison, including prison-based criminality, corruption, disease and deaths.

That is why the PNoy administration earnestly worked on a plan to transfer the NBP and the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) to the Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, and construct therein a state-of-the-art facility through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) under the Build-Transfer-Maintain (BTM) scheme, where the private partner would finance, detail-design, construct and procure security equipment and turn-over to the BuCor the facility after the three (3)-year construction period but continuing to maintain its structural and technical facets for the next 20 years. The government, through the DOJ and BuCor, on the other hand, would maintain the operational custodial and reformation services of the institution. BuCor could focus on its core tasks – the safekeeping and rehabilitation of inmates.

As of the time of our exit in June 2016, this milestone project, the first of its kind in the country, had already taken off, with the pre-qualification of three (3) major bidders. Unfortunately, while initially open to such project, with then SOJ Aguirre announcing in October 2016 that it would definitely push through, the Duterte administration eventually abandoned the same.

The aborted facility was to be the major highlight upon the enactment in 2013 of R.A. 10575 or the Bureau of Corrections Act, which the PNoy administration also pushed. The law aimed to improve the lot of, and professionalize, the then grossly underpaid and under-motivated BuCor workforce, by restructuring and upgrading their salary grade, training or re-training them regularly and modernizing its facilities.

Envisioned in the planned transfer of the site was the classification and segregation of inmates based on properly assessed needs and risks, separating heinous crime convicts from the rest of the inmates and restricting them inside tightly-secured special facilities.

But all these remain a dream, so elusive, creating mounting deep and complex problems.

Going by the expressed sentiments in the Senate hearings, re: GCTA and other BuCor anomalies, I’m glad that the hearts and minds of our lawmakers are now being opened to the stark reality that, on account of decades-old neglect and apathy, our correctional institutions have not lived up, in palpably upsetting degree, to the concept of rehabilitation.

Instead of a retrogressive and knee-jerk mindset of re-asserting the outdated retributive system, it would be well for our policymakers to seriously and urgently provide the needed wherewithal to fully effectuate the noble aims of restorative justice.

Prison reforms, medium-term and long-term, and not just stop gap measures like appointment of new officials and relieve or reshuffling of personnel and prison guards, ought to be a top priority, in terms of focus and budgetary allocations.

I so plead… ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 617, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_no._617)Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share your publications and get them in front of Issuu’s millions of monthly readers. Title: Dispatch from Crame No. 617, Author: Senator Leila M. de Lima, Name: D…

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