Palace stresses: Prisoner’s privilege, not rights

Published March 7, 2019, 2:56 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang is supporting the move of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to limit the privileges given to prisoners nationwide following the discovery that entry of contrabands and illegal activities continue in the country’s prisons.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo announced this after BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon initially cancelled the privileges of prisoners temporarily due to the incessant entry of contraband and illegal activities in prisons nationwide.

Faeldon’s ordering covering 45,000 inmates nationwide came after a drug convict at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison allegedly managed to make a drug transaction with his contacts in Cebu using an internet connection.

Among the privileges originally cancelled were visitations and recreational activities of inmates such as playing basketball.

Faeldon later on restored visitation privileges but said they are only allowing lawyers, immediate family family members, and legitimate spouses to visit.

A report by ABS-CBN said that the a common-law wife needs to undergo verification by the BuCor first before proceeding with their visit.

In his press briefing, Panelo said that privileges granted to prisoners can be cancelled. He also said it does not violate the rights of the prisoners.

“Eh kung temporary lang naman eh, siguro (I think it’s okay if it’s just temporary. Maybe) that’s a measure undertaken by the authorities to prevent the proliferation of illegal drugs,” he said.

“If it’s a privilege, you can lift the privilege. It’s not a right,” he added.

Panelo then addressed the sentiment of the human rights advocates to just improve the management of the country’s prisons to curb illegal activities, instead of revoking the prisoners’ privileges.

“‘Yan na naman si CHR, lahat na lang ng ginawa ng administration mali. (There goes the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) again. Everything the administration does is wrong to them),” he said.

Faeldon’s order took effect on March 5 and has been implemented at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Davao, Iwahig, San Ramon, Sablayan and Leyte prison and penal farms.

The memorandum originally prohibits prisoners from meeting visitors and receiving gifts and prepared food from them. Before the suspension, visitors were allowed from Wednesday to Sunday.