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PDEA chief opposes Alcatraz-type jail facilities

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By Chito Chavez

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino said building “Alcatraz’’ type jail facilities for convicts is not feasible citing several obstacles to make it a reality.

PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino tries the newly procured high-powered firearms and protective equipment that will be used by the operating units during their turnover ceremony at PDEA HQ in Quezon City on Jan. 18, 2019. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino tries the newly procured high-powered firearms and protective equipment that will be used by the operating units during their turnover ceremony at PDEA HQ in Quezon City on Jan. 18, 2019. (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Short of taking a dig at advocates of such jail facility, Aquino doubted if there are funds which will run to billions of pesos to build “such an ambitious’’ structure for convicted criminals.

He also maintained the current site of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in Muntinlupa City is not ideal for the convicted inmates as they still could roam around freely in a community type jail facility.

Aquino said the area around the BuCor is surrounded by squatter families citing that contrabands like illegal drugs can just be hurled over the fence and outside the compound as the illegal drug trade continues to run in the facility.

Instead of an “Alcatraz’’ type prison facility which is very costly, Aquino said that a similar structure built in a remote area is more feasible.

He chided those favoring an Alcatraz type jail facility to stop dreaming and just stick to reality.

However, Aquino noted that an Alcatraz jail facility if can be financed is also ideal but reality dictates building such structure is not only ambitious but also highly improbable due to its exorbitant cost.

Aquino stressed that finding an island is already a problem if plans to build an Alcatraz type jail facility is strongly pushed.

Besides its exorbitant cost, Aquino the illegal drug trade will likely prosper in an Alcatraz type jail facility as international drug syndicates with sophisticated arms, vehicles and equipment may find the waters easily accessible to ply their trade at the facility.

In a recent meeting with his foreign counterparts, Aquino revealed that similar problems such as illegal drugs also continue to hound the jails abroad even if they are more ideal than the local prison cells.

“The only difference is the illegal drug problems at the local jails are far worse than the ideal jails abroad,’’ Aquino added.

On the proposal to create three regional BuCor jails in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, Aquino thumbed down the idea stressing the difficulties in running one BuCor.

He confirmed rejecting offers to head the BuCor saying his 36 years of honest public service in the police force will surely be tainted as corruption among BuCor personnel down to the jail guards are very rampant.

He mentioned that the living conditions inside the BuCor and in the outside community are very similar insisting that drastic changes in the jail system should be enforced for the inmates to live like real prisoners.

Foreign drug syndicates and high-value convicts according to Aquino said the Philippines is a haven for their illegal drug trade with the absence of the death penalty and high number of corrupt government personnel.

“Talagang pera pera lang (It’s all about money),’’ Aquino said.

Many BuCor inmates prefer to live inside the facility rather than be released since they feel safer and accorded with free food and lodging which they may find difficult to enjoy in the outside community.

Aquino concluded that all BuCor personnel should be changed and replaced by decent men to slay all corrupt activities in the penitentiary.

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