De Lima: Use part of P75B DPWH budget ‘insertion’ for jails
MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Monday asked Congress to use part of the P75 billion ‘insertions’ in the budget Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to address the overcrowded jails in the country.
De Lima noted how overcrowded jails cause “innumerable indignities” to inmates and other problems like crimes, diseases, and incidence of abuse and misconduct.
“I appeal, most fervently, to all concerned government officials and my fellow members in Congress, to seriously consider proposed measures, including infrastructure plans, that will decisively address the issue of overcrowded jails,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame, where she is detained on drug charges.
“Can the Senate and/ or Bicam(eral conference committee) please consider allotting a portion of the deleted budget insertions for this urgent and most imperative concern? Please,” De Lima said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said that he and his fellow senators had agreed to “delete” the P75 billion from the DPWH allocation. The decision has yet to be finalized, however.
The upper chamber is set to approve the 2019 budget on second and final reading on Monday.
But speaking over ANC on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, Lacson said the amount would be “returned” to the National Expenditure Program (NEP), which details the government’s proposed programs for a coming year.
He also said that the amount would be more correctly called “adjustments” rather than “insertions.”
In pushing for funding for jails and detention facilities, De Lima cited the women’s detention center at Camp Karingal in Quezon City where 900 are detained in a room designed for only 90. She noted that there are only nine comfort rooms and one bathroom for all the detainees.
She also cited Dorm 5 in the Manila City Jail where 518 people are held in a room for only 170 detainees.
“These are mere representative samples of the true state and condition of our jails and detention cells. The facilities are more than severely congested,” De Lima said.
“In fact, to claim that there is a violation of the Constitutional proscription against jails under sub-human condition is to even understate the obvious. We are in the midst of a calamity!” she added.
She used the state of congested jails and detention centers in the country to again criticize the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
“Dagdag na patunay ito na ang sinasabing “drug war” ay talagang peke at hindi naplano,” the senator said. “Kitang-kita pa ang kakulangan at kawalang kaayusan ng mga kulungan, ospital at rehabilitation clinics,” she added.
De Lima said she earlier called for a Senate probe through Senate Resolution No. 590 on the Commission on Audit’s findings revealing the worsening state of detention facilities.
She said also advocated for the “integration of all jails and prisons under one central authority, the expansion and regionalization of facilities, and enhanced professionalization of custodial personnel” through Senate Bill (SB) No. 1879.”
She also pushed for the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and legitimate interests of jailed persons and the adoption of restorative justice through SB 2130. /cbb
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