By Mario Casayuran
Plans of putting up a high-security penal institution at Laur, Nueva Ecija to replace the crowded New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa city is still in the air.
Also still in the drawing boards are the construction of regional prison institutions so that families of inmates could have easier time visiting them.
The plan to build an alternate national penitentiary was brought up by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson during Thursday’s public hearing by the Senate on the NBP congestion and the controversial release of convicts serving time for heinous crimes under the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri filed a measure seeking to establish an ‘’Alcatraz-type’’ of national penitentiary while Senator Richard J. Gordon wanted the establishment of the Laur prison.
Lacson said the current 300-hectare NBP being supervised by the Bureau of Correction (Bucor) could be offered for lease.
A possible P60 billion long-term lease contract would be enough to maintain a prison institution, Lacson said.
A lease is far better than an outright sale, he added.
Lacson recalled that he, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and then Senator Gregorio B. Honasan II met Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on the proposed construction of a big penitentiary.
Prison officials said current BuCor properties such as those in Mindoro, Palawan and Mindoro could also be used to house regional prison institutions.
Also discussed was a probable privatization of the NBP.