MANILA — Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Samuel D. Pagdilao Jr. on Monday the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the other penitentiary systems in the country should be separated from the Department of Justice (DOJ) so these institutions can be supervised or run by more dedicated and competent people.
Pagdilao said the raid at the NBP that yielded illegal contraband and the discovery of fully furnished baths, music studio and living rooms that brought to fore the kind of lifestyle being enjoyed by the 20 high profile inmates, all convicted of robbery, drug trafficking and other major crimes, cannot be considered an isolated case.
“The recent incident in the NBP is not new. It has been existing before and during the time of Sec. Leila de Lima,” Pagdilao said in a statement.
Pagdilao, a former senior police officer, said he was saddened that the DOJ and NBP took only a decisive action four years into the present administration, under the leadership of present director Frank Bucayo, after the problem had worsened.
He said it took the participation of a multi-agency or force, NBP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF), for last week’s raid to be successful because of the scarce manpower resource of the NBP.
“Even with their participation, it seems that the operation was not 100% successful as it was not able to search all the places in one inclusive and decisive sweep to flush out and arrest the drug lords and other crime heads among the inmates and recover all contraband items inside the penitentiary,” Pagdilao said.
Pagdilao said the persistence of irregularities inside the NBP, which may be reflective of the prevailing situations in other penal institutions in the country, should serve as an eye opener that the NBP and the whole penitentiary system had not been given the attentionand support that it deserved as a correctional or reformation institution under the DOJ.
“The pillars of the Criminal Justice System show interdependence of 5 institutions – the Community, Law Enforcement, Prosecution, Judiciary and the Correctional Institution. Thus, the NBP must be made a separate agency where it can be supervised or run by more dedicated and competent people,” Pagdilao said.
The present setup, in which the NBP is placed under DOJ’s watch, was copied from the system being observed in the United States where the Federal Bureau of Prison (FBP), the bureau responsible for the administration of the federal prison system, is an agency operating under the US Justice Department. But the similarities seem to end here.
The neophyte lawmaker said that to ensure that these irregularities would not be repeated in the future, government should seriously push for the modernization and reorganization of the prison management system in the Philippines to provide more progressive and humane carefor inmates, to professionalize the prison service, and to ensure consistent administration of all prison facilities in the country.