Sotto, in a recent statement, said that the executive department agreed to construct penal facilities in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, in relation to the Senate’s proposal, which he co-authored, to establish separate prisons for persons convicted of heinous crimes.
A “spin-off” to their proposal, Sotto said Malacañang suggested the construction of regional penitentiaries in Laur, Nueva Ecija; Jamindan, Capiz, and Panabo City, Davao del Norte.
He said another facility would be built for high-profile drug convicts. “There will be a separate one, probably in Region 4, iyong penitentiary for high-level drug traffickers,” he said.
Sotto, however, did not specify when the penitentiaries will be built.
The government has long been planning to transfer the NBP in Muntinlupa City to Nueva Ecija as part of the program to modernize the country’s overpopulated penal institutions.
Last December 16, the Senate approved on third and final reading the Senate Bill 1055, which seeks the establishment of separate detention facilities for those convicted of heinous crimes. The House of Representatives has yet to come up with a counterpart measure.
Under the bill, a “state-of-the-art” maximum penal institution shall be constructed in secured and isolated locations determined by the DOJ Secretary where there will be no unwarranted contact or communication with those outside of the building.
These shall be equipped with round-the-clock surveillance system and extensive security features on locks, doors, and its perimeters. It shall also be kept clean and habitable at all times.
Sotto said this proposal, aside from decongesting the NBP, was aimed at bringing persons deprived of liberty closer to their families and increasing their chances of reformation.
“Paano ka bibisitahin kung tiga-Negros o Sultan Kudarat ang pamilya mo tapos ikaw ay nakakulong sa Bilibid (How will your relatives in Negros or Sultan Kudarat visit you if you are detained in Bilibid)? Hindi ka talaga madadalaw nang pamilya mo (Your family really cannot see you),” Sotto said.
“Sa Bilibid kapag ang isang convict hindi na binibisita ng pamilya niya, doon na nagsisimulang magloko, doon na sumasama kung kani- kaninong mga gang, kung ano anong naiisipang gawin (In Bilibid, a convict who is not visited by his family could further go astray, join gangs, or could think of illegal activities to do). Pero iyong mga binibisita, iyon usually hindi napapasama (But those visited by their families usually improve),” he noted.