Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Corrections and other related agencies to prioritize the modernization of the country’s correctional system to address the problem of jail congestion.
Dela Rosa, during the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the DOJ on Wednesday, lamented that modernizing the correctional system has been the least priority, even during the past administrations.
The former BuCor chief said the recommendations to have a regionalized prison facilities and establishing a “super, mega” maximum facility would complement each other to address jail congestion and illegal activities inside the maximum correctional facility.
Dela Rosa has been pushing for the regionalization of prison facilities or having two facilities each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao—to decongest the country’s correctional facility.
According to the senator, a “super, mega” maximum facility will address the issue of illegal activities that has been happening in the maximum security unit in the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa.
At the same time, Dela Rosa urged the BuCor to strengthen its mechanisms for released Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) who have chosen to stay within the country’s prison facilities since they fear adjusting to life “outside” of jail.
Citing his own experience, the senator noted that these PDLs who are mostly old and sickly, have preferred to stay put since they are regularly fed and they fear going hungry outside of prison.
Most of these PDLs have also no more families or relatives to return to and take care of them.
Dela Rosa said he hopes that the five pillars of the justice system—police, prosecution, courts, correction and the community—would be dealt with by law enforcement authorities.
“The last pillar—the community—we lack in this aspect. This is where the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or other agencies of government should come in and cater to the needs of returning PDLs,” Dela Rosa said.