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Sotto, Drilon questions ‘reluctance’ of Palace on regionalization of Bilibid

/ 12:50 PM November 17, 2021
Sotto, Drilon questions 'reluctance' of Palace on regionalization of Bilibid

Senators Franklin Drilon and Vicente Sotto III (File photos / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Is there no political will from the executive department to regionalize penal colonies, particularly the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City?

This was the question posed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon as they lamented the slow action on the proposed regionalization of penal colonies in the country in order to decongest the NBP and make visitations more accessible for families of persons deprived of liberty or PDLs in provinces.

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During the plenary debates on the proposed budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Sotto said the proposal to regionalize penal colonies was based on a study conducted by Drilon during his time as secretary of justice.

“The study says that the PDLs start to become unruly at nagloloko kapag hindi na nadadalaw ng pamilya. Eh paano dadalawin sa Muntinlupa kung taga-Sultan Kudarat, kung saga Negros, o taga Basilan? Paano dadalawin? Baka once a year  hindi madalaw, kaya nagloloko,” Sotto said.

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(The study says that PDLs start to become unruly when they are not visited by their families. How can their families visit them if their families are in Sultan Kudarat, Negros, or Basilan? They cannot visit even once a year so the PDLs become unruly.)

“I don’t see a reason why we can’t do this. No political will on the part of executive department? Because the idea does not come from them?” the Senate President added.

Senator Sonny Angara, who was defending the budget of the DOJ, said that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra likewise believes that regionalization is a “good idea” but the decision on this “is something that stops at the desk of the president.”

“Meaning it’s the President who should make that decision given the magnitude of the decision,” Angara said.

Guevarra, through Angara, said that a law is necessary to set forth the policy for regionalization.

Drilon, for his part, said there are already locations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao that can be developed into a regional detention facility.

“I don’t think we need a law for that. It’s a question of—like what the Senate President said—political will,” Drilon said.

“I really could not understand the reluctance to do this. Either it’s lack of political will o talagang hindi lang pinapansin (or it’s just really being ignored),” the minority leader added.

KGA

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TAGS: NBP, Political Will, Prison, Senate
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