The government is mulling transferring hardcore criminals, including big-time drug convicts, to other prison facilities or to a secluded island, in line with the marching orders of President Rodrigo Duterte against illegal drugs in the country.
Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II made the disclosure even as he announced that he is now coordinating with Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa for the deployment of not only members of the elite members of the Special Action Force, but also of the Philippine Marines in the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa.
According to Aguirre, the Duterte government will focus its anti-drug campaign on the NBP considering that 75 percent of transactions in illegal drugs are being done inside the national penitentiary.
He said Dela Rosa earlier volunteered to deploy 1,000 SAF members to guard the NBP but Aguirre felt 300 SAF men were enough.
The SAF men will be tasked to watch over the prisoners in three shifts for a maximum of three months to avoid familiarity.
After three months, the DoJ chief said, the SAF members will be pulled out and will be replaced by Marines.
On the other hand, among the facilities being eyed for the transfer of the hardcore criminals are the prison cells for rebel soldiers in either Camp Aguinaldo or in Tanay, Rizal.
“We are also considering transferring them to an island. That is really being considered,” Aguirre admitted.
Convicted drug lords have managed to continue their illegal operations inside the NBP through the use of mobile phones that were smuggled into the prison facility.
“We need a very strong jammer,” Aguirre said, noting that the Bureau of Corrections, which manages the country’s prison facilities, had installed jammers around the NBP but drug lords managed to continue with their operations.
In connection with this, Aguirre revealed the DOJ’s plan to buy a P10-million jammer made in Israel, which can block even mobile phones with signal boosters.
The jammer will be installed at the NBP’s Building 14 where high-profile inmates are detained.