MANILA, Philippines – Senator Franklin Drilon said that the government should sell the New Bilibid Prison’s compound in Muntinlupa and use the money to rehabilitate and regionalization of the prison system in the country.
Drilon made the suggestion during Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the proposed P10.8 billion 2013 budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which has jurisdiction over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
”We have the most expensive prison system probably in this part of the world. Our Muntinlupa prison system stands on a property that is worth $ 1 billion. We should sell it,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the regionalization would not only decongest the existing prison system, it would also unburden relatives from traveling as far as Mindanao just to visit the prisoners in Muntinlupa.
”What we indicate is that there is every cent in implementing a regional prison system not only to decongest, but also by purposes of freeing a very important asset of the government and rehabilitation of prisoners can be better served when their relatives can visit them,” Drilon said.
Drilon said the Leyte prison system which sits in an 800-hectare government property can be expanded as a regional prison system for the Visayas.
”Also, in Mindanao, we have several detention centers there that can be expanded so prisoners can be incarcerated in Mindanao detention center,” Drilon said.
The BuCor said that as of 2011, the country’s inmate population is 36,295 which almost half of the capacity of the existing prison system.
”Our detention centers are already overcrowded and that’s why we need to have regional prison system in order to free our valuable assets and number two, it serve our prison system well for there can be better rehabilitation of our prisoners,” Drilon said.
The senator said the Privatization Management Office can handle the sale of the Muntinlupa prison system.
For 2013, the Bucor has proposed P66.1 million budget for the rehabilitation and improvement of the NBP (P14.1 million); for Information Technology and Software (P40.1 million); and for military and police equipment (P11.9 million). BuCor’s total proposed budget is P1.821 billion.
DOJ has actually submitted a department-wide budget proposal of P38.9 billion but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has recommended a budget of P10.8 billion only for the DOJ which has nine attached agencies including National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).