De Lima pushes Senate inquiry into congestion in penitentiaries

Published April 23, 2018, 11:20 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Hannah Torregoza

Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Monday urged the Senate leadership to finally start holding public hearings on resolutions seeking to address the congestion and the poor living conditions inside jails and penitentiaries all over the country.

Sen. Leila de Lima (PRIB Photo by Alex Nuevaespaña/2 August 2016/Manila Bulletin)
Sen. Leila de Lima (PRIB Photo by Alex Nuevaespaña/ /Manila Bulletin File Photo)

De Lima made the call after the Philippine National Police (PNP) recently release data showing that most regional police offices have congested detention facilities.

“It’s about time for the appropriate Senate committee to address the issue concerning overcrowded detention cells and act on the resolutions I filed,” de Lima said in a statement.

De Lima earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 97 which calls for a Senate inquiry into the status of jails and penitentiaries nationwide.

She also filed Senate Resolution 590 which calls on the Upper Chamber to look into the failure of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to complete jail facility projects.

“Proper investigations in aid of legislation should push through to come up with a solution on how to decongest and improve the worsening state of detention facilities in the country,” she emphasized.

Data as of March 31 from the PNP’s Human Rights Affairs Office (HRAO) showed that 13 out of the 17 regional police offices have overcrowded detention facilities.

According to the data released, Calabarzon Police Regional Office (PRO-4A) has the highest congestion rate (45.35 percent), with 78 of its 172 custodial centers considered as overcrowded.

The former justice secretary said a Senate probe is necessary to avoid other problems, including health issues, that can arise due to extreme overcrowding of prisoners in jails.

“There is an urgent need to address the issues on jail congestion to avoid several problems that can arise from it, such as illness and poor hygiene among inmates, substandard sleeping accommodation, lack of food provision, to name some,” said the senator.

“I keep saying also that jail congestion is the root cause of prison-based criminality,” she noted.

De Lima is currently detained at the PNP custodial center while she is facing drug charges.