DoJ to decongest national penitentiary
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL
The Manila Times
THE Department of Justice (DoJ) will transfer some facilities of the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) to address the worsening decongestion problem inside the national penitentiary. Lawyer Mico Clavano, DoJ spokesman, on Friday confirmed that the plan was to move some Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facilities to the sprawling 35,000-hectare Fort Magsaysay military camp in Nueva Ecija. “We want to address the congestion problem in the NBP in order to provide humane living conditions to the prisoners,” Clavano said. He clarified though that the purpose is not to open a new prison but only to move some of the facilities, saying “either a medium or minimum security prison” would be placed there. But the plan, according to Clavano, has to be coordinated first with the Department of Health and the Department of National Defense, which both have a stake in the NBP. Fort Magsaysay currently hosts the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, which was donated by a Chinese businessman shortly after Rodrigo Duterte was elected president in 2016. On Thursday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla and BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag inspected the drug rehabilitation center in connection with the planned expansion of the facilities of the BuCor. According to Bantag, the Corrections bureau is determined to improve its facilities and to push decongestion strategies in order to help prisoners or persons deprived of liberty, specifically in their reformation in preparation for their eventual reintegration into mainstream society in the best way possible. The plan to transfer the facilities to Nueva Ecija was first conceived by the Duterte administration. The DoJ has created a task force for the possible transfer to address the congestion issue at the NBP. The national penitentiary houses 58 to 60 percent of the 48,000 inmates under the care of the BuCor, which include 17,329 hardcore inmates detained inside the maximumsecurity compound. Aside from the NBP, the BuCor also operates the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro; San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City; Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan; Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte; and Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Davao del Norte.