Abalos: More LGUs agree to usufruct deals to build more BJMP jails

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. confirmed on Monday, Aug. 22, that more local government units (LGUs) had committed to a usufruct agreement in the construction of jail facilities to ease the congestion woes in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-manned detention cells.

He made this assurance at the sidelines of the 31st founding anniversary of the BJMP which he graced with DILG Undersecretary for Public Safety Serafin Barretto Jr. and other officials in San Mateo, Rizal.

A usufruct agreement is a legal term used to describe the situation in which an individual is granted the legal right to utilize the property or asset belonging to someone else.

While using the property, the individual is granted access to the profits derived from the asset so long as it is not altered or destroyed in the process.

Abalos stated that he wanted to focus on the building of more jails to provide the persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) with a more comfortable environment and to lessen the chances of having them contact ailments like tuberculosis, boils, skin diseases among others.

As of August, the BJMP's congestion rate is at 387 percent according to Abalos.

“Siguro ang pinakamaganda rito ay instead of mag-donate (ng lots) ang mga LGUs, naisip ko ay mag-usufruct na lang. Ipahiram (lots) na lang sa atin. For example kung minsan ang city hall kung magdonate (property) ay hindi na sila ang may-ari, so maapektuhan ang kanilang financial capacity (I thought what is more viable is that instead of the local government units (LGUs) donating lots, we should just have an usufruct agreement. The lots will just be lent to us. For example, in cases city hall decides to donate they will no longer own the property so their financial capacity will be affected),’’ Abalos said.

Abalos noted that the government will prioritize the construction of detention facilities with high congestion rates considering the huge amount that needs to be earmarked for the purpose.

The DILG chief pointed to the deplorable situation in San Mateo where the PDLs need to schedule their sleeping hours due to the overcrowdedness of their prison cells.

"Matutulog lang naka-schedule pa (They even need to schedule their sleeping time)," Abalos said.

The DILG chief also asked BJMP Director Allan Iral to try their best to give the PDLs a little comfort while waiting for their cases to be heard and resolved.

In his message, Iral promised to give their all to make the BJMP remain stread fast in achieving its ambitions outlined on its 20-year development roadmap.

"It is our comprehensive transformation strategy that will be our vehicle in attaining our vision of becoming a world-class agency, highly capable of providing humane safekeeping and developmental opportunities for persons deprived of liberty," Iral said.

In the fight against illegal drugs, Iral assured that he will never be threatened by the challenges posed by the undaunting tasks of maintaining order in the facilities and preventing the smuggling of contraband inside the jail premises. (Chito A. Chavez)