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Saturday, April 20, 2024

DOJ eyes P23b to build new jails, raise inmates’ subsidy

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JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday said the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) for P23 billion for new jail facilities as well as increased subsidy for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) was unfunded under the proposed 2024 national budget.

Remulla made the admission when asked to explain why the daily food and medicine allowance for PDLs remained at P85 for 2024, the same amount provided under the 2023 budget.

“We asked for P100 [daily subsistence of PDLs] for food, and P30 for medicine. But our request for funding was denied, and many of our urgent needs were not given funding by the DBM,” Remulla said during a budget in the House of Representatives.

“Actually, we have made numerous requests for funding for our urgent needs but the DBM did not give them,” Remulla said.

“The congestion of our jails is at 383 percent, and we asked for allocation to fix this problem. We wanted P23 billion to build new jails, but our
request was not granted,” Remulla lamented.

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The DOJ’s proposed budget for 2024 is P34.5 billion.

In response, DBM’s Mary Ann dela Vega explained that increasing the daily subsidy for food and medicine of PDLs in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) would also entail increase for daily subsistence of PDLs under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

“Yes, we have maintained the rate of P70 for food and P15 for medicine for PDLs of BuCor and BJMP. It was maintained because the impact of the increase will amount to P3 billion, so we decided to maintain the level,” Dela Vega said.

The DBM official also said in maintaining the amount of subsidy of food and medicine for PDLs, they also considered that the daily subsistence for the military and uniformed personnel (MUP) was only at P150 per day.

However, the MUP’s monthly salary has been doubled during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The DOJ chief attended the hearing to defend the agency’s proposed budget for 2024 is P34.5 billion.

Remulla acknowledged that the DOJ needs a bigger amount to address problems besetting the penal system.

“The congestion of our jails is at 383 percent, and we asked for allocation to fix this problem. We asked for P23 to build new jails, but our request was not granted,” Remulla told the House appropriations committee headed by Akko Bicol Rep. Elizaldy Co.

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