By Chito Chavez
Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año is strongly supporting the creation of a proposed Heinous Crimes Penitentiary (HCP) facility, a move designed to clean the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City of high-risk criminals.
During the DILG’s budget presentation, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri asked Año if he would back the creation of an HCP facility, or an ‘Alcatraz-like prison’ for convicted criminals of atrocious offense.
“Mabuti po iyon para mas mabantayan natin iyong mga illegal drug lords, CPP-NPA at terrorist groups (That is better so that we will be able to closely guard the illegal drug lords, CPP-NPA and terrorist groups),” Año replied.
The HCP is being eyed to be built in Palawan near the West Philippine Sea where personal visits will no longer be allowed even to families of the convicts.
“We strongly support your proposed bill to serve as a deterrent for criminals from further committing such heinous acts,” said Año.
Año also agreed to the proposal of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to integrate all provincial jail facilities to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
If approved, Año said the measure will “professionalize and standardize the management of jails at the local level.”
“We fully support Senator Drilon’s proposal to bring all provincial jails into our fold at the BJMP because this will not only standardize policies and rules in managing jails but will also ensure that local jails are manned by highly-trained and competent jail personnel,” said Año.
He noted that some jails managed by local government units (LGUs) lack adequate facilities and employ ill-trained and ill-equipped personnel.
“I am confident that with BJMP’s competence in managing jails and with its professional corps of uniformed jail officers, prison break incidents in provincial jails will be substantially reduced,” he added.
Under Drilon’s proposed bill, there will be a national jail system under the DOJ-Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and a local jail system under the DILG-BJMP.
Año said the transfer of provincial jails to BJMP “will also be advantageous to the local governments” as they will not anymore worry about issues like riots, jailbreaks, salaries of local jail personnel, and meals for the persons deprived of liberty.
Records from the BJMP show that of the 74 provincial jails nationwide, 13 provincial jails are now being supervised and manned by the BJMP by virtue of a memorandum of agreement between the LGUs and the provincial governments.
Seven provinces, however, have no provincial jails.
“If and when the 61 provincial jails with a total jail population of 32,940 will be turned over to the BJMP, we will need to hire and train an additional 14,573 jail officers to man these jails,” Año said.
As provided in R.A. No. 6975, the Jail Bureau is mandated to take operational and administrative control over all city, district and municipal jails.
Under the Local Government Code, however, provincial and sub-provincial jails are under the management and control of the Provincial Governments resulting in a disorganized jail system.