Aquino signs law to modernize prisons, professionalize corrections personnel
MANILA, Philippines — The government is now in position to institute reforms and better conditions in the country’s prisons now that President Benigno Aquino has signed a law that will modernize the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
The reforms will include hiring more personnel to guard the country’s prisoners now numbering 37,232.
De Lima said President Aquino signed last May 24 Republic Act no. 10575 or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, a law designed to enable government to upgrade prison facilities, professionalize the bureau and increase the salary and benefits of its personnel.
“With the new law, we can now improve prison facilities, recruit more corrections officers, and implement more responsive reformation programs for inmates,” said De Lima, whose office released a copy of the new law to reporters.
Under the new law, the BuCor may hire more personnel in order to maintain the custodial personnel-to-inmate ratio of 1:7 and reformation personnel-to-inmate ratio of 1:24.
In a statement, De Lima said the total authorized number of prison guards under the old prison law was at 2,362 while the prison population has tripled from 12,000 to 37,232. At the National Bilibid Penitentiary, the current prison-to-inmate ratio is at 1:62 while at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, the prison guard-to-inmate ratio is at 1:144.
The new law also upgraded the qualification standards in the appointment of BuCor personnel. The new law now requires them to pass a psychiatric/psychological test and physical test. They are also required to possess a baccalaureate degree, possess the appropriate civil service eligibility and should have no conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude, among others.
For incumbent BuCor personnel without the required educational and eligibility, the new law requires them to obtain the minimum educational qualification and eligibility in five years from the effectivity of the law.
And to ensure “sustained professionalism in the service,” the law also directs the BuCor to conduct a study for the establishment of the Philippine Corrections Academy, patterned after the Philippine National Police Academy and the Philippine Military Academy for its commissioned officers.
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