China pledges funds to de­con­gest Philip­pine jail

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China has pledged funds for a new de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity in the Philip­pines as part of its sup­port for Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s drug war, the Philip­pine jail chief said yes­ter­day.

Duterte’s un­prece­dented crack­down has wors­ened se­vere con­ges­tion in Philip­pine jails, with AFP pho­tographs of Que­zon City Jail in July ex­pos­ing how in­mates in one of the nation’s most overcrowded de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties took turns to sleep on an open-air basketball court and a stair­case.

Duterte has cred­ited China for sup­port­ing his crime war, which the United States and the United Na­tions have crit­i­cized over al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. Bei­jing has pro­vided fund­ing for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and of­fered weapons for the cam­paign that has left more than 5,000 peo­ple dead.

Yes­ter­day, the head of the Bureau of Jail Man­age­ment and Penol­ogy said that dur­ing Duterte’s trip to Bei­jing in October, China also of­fered to do­nate 700 mil­lion pe­sos ($14 mil­lion) for de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties. “It’s meant to help the anti-crime cam­paign of our pres­i­dent. It’s re­ally for jails,” prison di­rec­tor Ser­afin Bar­retto told AFP. “We feel happy be­cause this will be a big help to ad­dress the lack of re­sources.”

Bar­retto added that his agency de­cided to use the money to fund the construction of a new Que­zon City Jail, which was built six decades ago for 800 in­mates but now houses al­most 3,000. Duterte, 71, took of­fice in June and quickly made good on his cam­paign prom­ise to launch a bru­tal drug war that would pre­vent the Philip­pines from be­com­ing a narco-state.

The spike in ar­rests has packed an un­der­funded and over­whelmed pe­nal sys­tem, with the pop­u­la­tion in Que­zon City Jail soar­ing to 4,100 in Au­gust. The num­ber had since gone down af­ter a lo­cal court agreed to tem­po­rar­ily ad­mit new in­mates to other jails in Manila with more space, war­den Ran­del La­toza told AFP. City and jail of­fi­cials said the AFP re­port fast-tracked the trans­fer of land for a new fa­cil­ity that could house 6,000 in­mates by 2019 but fi­nances re­mained a chal­lenge. La­toza said the Chi­nese aid would con­trib­ute to fund­ing the new jail es­ti­mated to cost two bil­lion pe­sos ($40 mil­lion). —AFP

MANILA: In­mates re­lax at the basketball court in­side the jail in Que­zon City yes­ter­day. —AFP

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