BuCor eyeing Nueva Ecija as new site for Bilibid prison but needs Palace nod
MANILA, Philippines — Facing problems of over-congested prisons, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. said on Tuesday that Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija could offer more spaces for the inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
Catapang Jr. said three areas had been identified as a possible relocation sites for New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during his tenure in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“One in Luzon, which is in Fort Magsaysay. In fact, when I was already commander of the 7th Division, at the time, it was the year 2013, we’re looking for a place where we can really put up the New Bilibid Prison,” he said in an interview on ANC.
According to Catapang Jr., a total of 500 hectares in Fort Magsaysay had already been allotted for the relocation but planned to rebuild the NBP there did not push through.
He added that the land is under the Department of National Defense’s name.
“If a presidential proclamation can be made declaring some portions of Fort Magsaysay as a prison and a penal farm, we would like to be there, because now, I’m faced with a bigger problem of what to do with our PDLs,” said Catapang Jr.
The BuCor Chief explained that the prisons are congested and that living conditions for PDLs have become difficult.
While BuCor owns lands in Palawan, Mindoro, Davao, and more, Catapang said that most PDLs are from Metro Manila, and their families would have to cross through the water to visit their loved ones in prison.
“I need a prison colony north of Metro Manila, and also south of Metro Manila,” he said.
South of Metro Manila, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is considering the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal as a potential construction site, sparking outrage from the reserve’s management as they have heavily emphasized the area’s protected status. However, BuCor has previously denied the rumors of building a prison and instead is looking to construct a new headquarters.