With agri production in 7 penal farms, BuCor can help reduce prices of rice -- Catapang

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. on Monday, Sept. 11, expressed optimism that the bureau can help reduce prices of rice in the market.

Price ceiling on rice has been imposed by President Marcos last Aug. 31 through Executive Order No. 39.

Catapang said that the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is the site of “a pilot project for agro-tourism sites and food production areas under a joint memorandum agreement (MOA) between the Department of Justice and Department of Agriculture”

He said that the project under the MOA would utilize 501 hectares of the IPPF's reservation’s property of 28,326.41 hectares.

“Kung maswertihan nga po natin na mataniman ng palay yung buong Iwahig, baka nga mapababa talaga natin ang presyo ng bigas (If we get lucky to plant rice in the entire Iwahig, we might reduce the cost of rice,” he also said. 

At the same time, Catapang said that BuCor will also launch in October the Pambansang Bagsakan ng Bigas para sa Mamamayan (PBBM) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) reservations in Muntinlupa City “to provide direct farm to market trading thereby eliminating middlemen so that the consumers can directly benefit from much cheaper price of rice.”

He said the NBP's property can also be used as “a food terminal and food transportation terminal so that products from north Luzon can easily reach those living in the south of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.”

Aside from the IPPF, Catapang noted the NBP in Muntinlupa City has  a vacant lot of 200 hectares; Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (SPPF) in Occidental Mindoro, 8,327 hectares; San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm (SRPPF) in Zamboanga City, 664.74 hectares; Davao Prison and Penal Farm (DPPF) in Davao del Norte, 8,445.13 hectares; and Leyte Regional Prison (:RP) in Abuyog, Leyte, 861.6 hectares.

H said that BuCor's more than 50,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) can be used as manpower to cultivate these idle lands.

“Gawin nating relevant and PDLs at sustainable, kasi kung magkaka trabaho din sila at makakalikom ng konting income para sa BuCor, balang araw ang BuCor ay hindi na hihingi ng pera sa gobyerno at baka pwede pa mag share kami ng kinikita ng BuCor sa pamahalaan sa darating na panahon (Let’s make PDLs relevant and sustainable because, once they get jobs and earn for BuCor, the bureau will, one day, no longer ask money from the government and, instead, share in the profits),” he explained.