MANILA — While waiting for the new Php50-billion national penitentiary to be built over the next three years in Nueva Ecija, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is pushing for the construction of small capacity jails for high-profile inmates.
”One of our innovations to put order inside the NBP (National Bilibid Prison) is that we recommend the construction of small capacity jails for high-profile inmates,” BuCor Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu said in a Senate hearing Tuesday on the prevalence of crimes inside the national penitentiary.
Bucayu said the small capacity jails which will house 50 to 100 inmates each will replace the dismantled “kubol” houses used by the “very important prisoners”.
The BuCor chief said the government will spend up to Php15 million for each of the small capacity jails.
Bucayu also said all the prison guards and personnel in the country will undergo training and seminars to improve the services of all the penitentiary facilities in the country.
During the hearing, Jean Basan-Runnstrom of Hifab International, a human rights group based in Sweden, revealed that there are more than 800 unreleased prisoners despite finishing already their respective jail term.
”These prisoners should have been released already. We have the list of these 800 overstaying prisoners. I will help to decongest our jails if they will be released,” Runnstrom said.
This prompted Senate minority leader Vicente Sotto III to order Bucayu to verify the 800 overstaying inmates after the BuCor chief said there are only 81 overstaying inmates.
Runnstrom promised to furnish the Senate committee on justice and human rights, headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, with the copy of the 800 overstaying inmates.
Bucayu told the panel that they are having difficulties in reviewing the cases of all the prisoners, including the 40,185 inside the country’s seven penitentiaries “because we have not encoded them in the computer.”
”Some of the records became unreadable because the papers have already deteriorated,” Bucayu said.
He told the panel that Malacanang has approved already a plan to build a Php50-billion prison facility in a 500-hectare lot in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
It will replace the aging and congested New Bilibid Prison with 23,000 inmates, including 18,000 with life imprisonment sentence.