Prisoners would be sorted according to the crimes they committed in a regionalization plan that would decongest the New Bilibid Prison in Metro Manila, which can only accommodate 6,000 inmates but is currently detaining roughly 30,000, an official said.
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said the plan includes the separation of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who committed heinous crimes such as murder, rape, and drug-related violations in each region.
These are part of reforms in the state penitentiary following a series of controversies, most notably the alleged involvement of erstwhile prisons bureau chief Gerald Bantag in the murder of broadcast journalist Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.
“In the three regions, we will choose where the drugs, the rape, the murder (convicts) will go. We will not lump them together. We will sort them out,” Catapang said in a media interview late Friday.
The BuCor has already identified areas inmates…of regionalization, which include Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, and the Davao region.
These regional prisons would also have maximum, medium, and minimum facilities.
A facility at the Fort Ramon Magsaysay military reservation in Nueva
Ecija can be used by “early next year,” according to Catapang.
“In Region 3, the (Justice) Secretary (Jesus Crispin Remulla) had asked on the Cabinet level the DOH (Department of Health) and the Department of National Defense if we could use the facility the (Philippine Army’s) 7th division erected for drug addicts that went unused,” the prisons chief said.
Remulla had said regional jails will make it easier for prisoners’ families and loved ones to visit them.
“This (New Bilibid Prison) is perhaps the biggest in Asia and one of the biggest in the world. Families find it hard to visit their relatives in prison, especially if they come from farther away,” the Justice chief said earlier.
The regionalization is also seen to address the increasing remains of dead PDLs that are unclaimed supposedly due to transportation issues of their loved ones.
Senior Supt. Ma. Cecilia Villanueva, director of BuCor’s health and welfare services, said either the prisoners have to relatives to claim their remains, their families live in the provinces away from the jails, or have changed their addresses.
The BuCor on Friday buried 60 cadavers of PDLs that were not claimed by their relatives from the Eastern Funeral Services in Muntinlupa City.
The bodies are among the 176 remains earlier found piled up at the funeral parlor during the investigation on the death of Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the murder of Percy Lapid.