DOJ: NBP reforms sought, including site transfer
MANILA, Philippines – The transfer of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to Laur, Nueva Ecija is among the reforms being sought for the country's main penitentiary.
On Thursday, June 5, Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Francisco "Toti" Baraan III told reporters the plan to relocate the NBP to a new site "has been in the works for the last two years."
The NBP's new site will be near Fort Magsaysay, a Philippine army base.
"... it will be a very new and modern facility that will follow international standards," he said of the planned relocation.
The project – pegged for now at P40 billion ($916 million*) – seeks to modernize the NBP and convert it into a commercial area.
The NBP is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), an agency under the DOJ.
"Nasa feasibility study na ang transfer. We have until next year to finish... In principle, approved na yan (We are at the stage of finishing the feasibility study of the transfer. We have until next year to finish... In principle, that is already approved)," he said.
The modernization project will most likely be undertaken through a public-private partnership, Baraan said.
Baraan said reforms for the NBP go beyond its physical structure and also involve changing mindsets among prison guards.
Baraan's pronouncement comes a day after NBP superintendent Fajardo Lansangan and 12 prison guards were relieved for mishandling the offsite hospital confinement of convicted drug lord Ricardo Camata, who is suffering from a lung disease. (READ: Prison head sacked over treatment of VIP inmate)
According to Baraan, Camata was visited by television personality Krista Miller and two other unidentified women during his stay at the Metropolitan Hospital in Manila.
Baraan said Miller even stayed until the "wee hours of the morning."
He said the incident shows a "lack of professionalism in our prison guards."
"We need to retrain them," he added.
Culture favoring rich inmates
Baraan said he has ordered the doctors within NBP to explain why Camata was allowed to leave the prison premises to seek medical attention.
"(The) message is para bang napagbibigyan ang may kaya, kasi ang outside hospitalization ay meron silang means to pay... Paano ang walang means?" he asked. (The message is, we are giving leeway to those who can afford and have the means to pay outside hospitalization... What about those without the means?)
Baraan expressed dismay that the prison guards have been used to such a system that "it has become a culture sa (at the) NBP." – Rappler.com
*$1 = P43.68