The Philippine Star

DOJ or­ders mon­i­tor­ing of Bili­bid re­forms

- – Non Alquitran, Paolo Romero, Artemio Dum­lao Justice · Law · United States Department of Justice · Washington Metropolitan Area · Philippine National Police · Ronald dela Rosa · United States Department of the Interior · Philippines Department of the Interior and Local Government

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DOJ) has cre­ated an over­sight body to look into re­ports of abuses of pris­on­ers fol­low­ing re­forms im­ple­mented by new Bureau of Correction­s (BuCor) chief Ger­ald Ban­tag.

Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra yes­ter­day said he had in­structed the DOJ’s over­sight com­mit­tee to closely mon­i­tor the re­forms ini­ti­ated by Ban­tag and en­sure that the well­be­ing of in­mates is taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Gue­varra is­sued the or­der fol­low­ing re­ports that some in­mates at the New Bili­bid Prison (NBP) were ex­posed

to harsh con­di­tions brought about by the clear­ing op­er­a­tions in­side the com­pound.

“I have di­rected the in­terim DOJ over­sight com­mit­tee to closely mon­i­tor re­forms be­ing ini­ti­ated by the new Bureau of Correction­s lead­er­ship and en­sure that such re­forms are be­ing im­ple­mented within the bounds of the law and with due con­sid­er­a­tion for the well­be­ing of in­mates in our pen­i­ten­tiaries,” he said.

Ban­tag has or­dered the de­mo­li­tion of “kubols” or huts in­side the NBP com­pound, say­ing these are il­le­gal. He stressed kubols breed cor­rup­tion among BuCor per­son­nel by al­low­ing priv­i­leged pris­on­ers to use them for their il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ban­tag said cor­rupt BuCor per­son­nel al­low ma­te­ri­als and sup­plies to be brought in for the con­struc­tion of kubols.

The on­go­ing de­mo­li­tion of the kubols, how­ever, left sev­eral in­mates with­out any shel­ter.

Some of the in­mates forced out of the kubols had to sleep un­der the open sky with box car­tons as mat­tress.

Most can­not be ac­com­mo­dated in other de­ten­tion cells be­cause these are al­ready over­crowded.

An in­mate had claimed they have no place to sleep, no food to eat and no wa­ter to drink. Ad­ding to their mis­ery is the lack of elec­tric­ity, which makes the heat un­bear­able.

Gue­varra stressed the DOJ is not in­ter­fer­ing with the BuCor op­er­a­tions.

“The DOJ is not sup­posed to in­ter­fere with the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of the BuCor, as it only ex­er­cises gen­eral ad­min­is­tra­tive su­per­vi­sion and not con­trol over the bureau,” he added.

But he ex­plained their “su­per­vi­sion” over BuCor in­cludes “call­ing at­ten­tion to ac­tions which are im­proper, un­law­ful, or way out of bounds. It also in­cludes in­sti­tut­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion when­ever war­ranted.”

Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice (NCRPO) chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he sup­ports the re­forms ini­ti­ated by Ban­tag.

Eleazar said he would con­tinue to work with Ban­tag to com­pletely stop the con­tin­ued drug ped­dling ac­tiv­i­ties of de­tained drug lords in­side the jail fa­cil­ity.

“We have a good start with the BuCor, we in­tend to fin­ish what we started there in terms of deny­ing all the con­victed drug lords in­side and even lead­ers of other crim­i­nal syn­di­cates to con­tinue with their il­le­gal op­er­a­tion,” Eleazar said.

The sale of il­le­gal drugs and other con­tra­band in the kubols is what forced Ban­tag to or­der the de­mo­li­tion of the shanties, he said.

Eleazar said he would serve as the voice of Ban­tag in the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice in what­ever as­sis­tance he may need in in­sti­tut­ing re­forms at the NBP.

“There is now good co­or­di­na­tion and co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the po­lice and the BuCor, and also with other law en­force­ment agen­cies, this should be taken ad­van­tage of and there­fore must con­tinue,” Eleazar said.

On Fri­day, an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice went off in one of the kubols be­ing de­mol­ished.

Although no one has claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ex­plo­sion, in­ves­ti­ga­tors how­ever be­lieved it could be a tac­tic to put off the de­mo­li­tion of il­le­gal struc­tures in­side the NBP com­pound.

Mean­while, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa has pro­posed to trans­fer the con­trol and su­per­vi­sion of pro­vin­cial and sub-pro­vin­cial jails to the Bureau of Jail Man­age­ment and Penol­ogy (BJMP) in the ef­fort to im­prove the coun­try’s pe­nal sys­tem.

Dela Rosa filed Se­nate Bill 1100 seek­ing the trans­fer of man­age­ment of all de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties to the BJMP.

The former PNP chief, who briefly served as BuCor di­rec­tor gen­eral, said the move will re­sult in a uni­form and stan­dard set of poli­cies and guide­lines in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of lo­cal jails.

Such a move will also ad­vance the wel­fare of in­mates and de­tainees, he said.

“Our pro­posed mea­sure aims to im­ple­ment a uni­formed, un­de­vi­at­ing stan­dard in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing poli­cies and guide­lines with re­gard to the ad­min­is­tra­tion of our de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties. This way, we could en­sure a high prob­a­bil­ity of suc­cess in the ref­or­ma­tion of our per­sons de­prived of lib­erty (PDLs),” Dela Rosa said.

Lo­cal jails are cur­rently un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of two dif­fer­ent au­thor­i­ties where the city, mu­nic­i­pal and dis­trict jails are un­der the BJMP while the pro­vin­cial and sub-pro­vin­cial jails are un­der the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

Such setup, Dela Rosa pointed out, hin­ders the ad­vance­ment of a na­tional stan­dard in the op­er­a­tional man­age­ment of all lo­cal jails to­ward a more ef­fec­tive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of in­mates.

He said the bill seeks to amend cer­tain pro­vi­sions of Repub­lic Act 6975 or the Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Act of 1990 so “this will also help in en­sur­ing the ef­fi­cacy of our ref­or­ma­tion pro­grams for PDLs and an im­prove­ment in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of our de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties.”

Gov­ern­ment agen­cies as­signed to su­per­vise and run the coun­try’s jail fa­cil­i­ties have been draped with con­tro­versy in the past weeks fol­low­ing a se­ries of con­gres­sional in­quiries that started with the pre­ma­ture re­lease of in­mates con­victed of heinous crimes but were granted free­dom un­der the Good Con­duct Time Al­lowance law.

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