A leader of the House of Representatives is urging the government to build more modern and spacious jail facilities to prevent prison overcrowding and the spread of COVID-19.
Deputy Speaker and Mandaluyong City Representative Neptali Gonzales II stressed the importance of building better facilities to lessen the spread of diseases in jails.
“The congestion rate in the Bureau of Corrections’ 125 prisons is at 310 percent in January 2020.”
Gonzales also cited the Bureau of Corrections records showing that the congestion rate in its 125 prisons was 310 percent in January 2020.
According to a Human Rights Watch Report in 2020, 467 jails nationwide were at 534 percent of capacity in March of the same year based on Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) records.
“In these trying times, we are hoping that Congress will also shed light on the needs of our fellow Filipinos who have been deprived of liberty. PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) also deserve humane and safe facilities especially now that we are in a pandemic,” the veteran legislator stressed.
The seasoned lawmaker said the government should address the inadequate detention conditions that could have devastating impacts on PDLs and prison staff, especially amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He cited as an example the establishment of the first fully automated, modern and state-of-the-art eight-story city jail in Mandaluyong.
The new city jail in Mandaluyong worth P515 million has an energy-efficient design, a “sunning area” on the roof deck, a basketball court, and a state-of-the-art kitchen and laundry facilities.
“We hope that more of these facilities will be funded under the next year’s national budget,” Gonzales said.
“The old BJMP building has the capacity of around 170 PDLs, but it currently houses over 700 inmates.”
He said this facility could be the solution to the perennial problem of prison congestion, as he noted that the old BJMP building has the capacity of around 170 PDLs, but it currently houses over 700 inmates.
“Ngayon namang panahon ng COVID-19, huwag naman sana mangyari maghawaan… Ngunit kung mayroon man pangyayaring ganito… ay may sapat na lugar o selda na dahil sa laki ng aming bagong city jail, na maaaring maihiwalay ang mga magpa-positive na inmates, sa kabuuan ng mga nakakulong (In this time of COVID-19, we hope to prevent any transmission… But if it ever happens, there would be enough space or cells in the new city jail to separate inmates who tested positive for Covid-19 from other prisoners),” Gonzales stressed.
The new facility was inaugurated on July 27, with Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar leading the inauguration as part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.