Gov’t starts jail decongestion; new city jails chief named | Inquirer News

Gov’t starts jail decongestion; new city jails chief named

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:42 AM June 29, 2023

Facade of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), with the sign of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). STORY: Gov’t starts jail decongestion; new city jails chief named

Facade of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), with the sign of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). (Photo from the Bureau of Corrections website)

MANILA, Philippines — The transfer of around 7,500 inmates from New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to other penal farms has started as part of the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) plan to shut down the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City by 2028.

Over at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), which is in charge of looking after 126,606 inmates in 479 jails with a nationwide congestion rate of 365 percent, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has picked a career jail officer to head the agency in place of Gen. Allan Iral, who chose to retire after reaching the maximum four-year tour of duty on June 23.

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As the 10th BJMP head, jail director Ruel Rivera will be leading the agency’s 20,813-strong personnel.

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Earlier this week, an initial batch of 500 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) from NBP’s medium and minimum security compounds and the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City were taken by boat to Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan province.

Angelina Bautista, officer in charge of the BuCor office of the deputy director for operations, said the inmates were accompanied by more than 100 bureau personnel who were reassigned to IPPF after they were relieved from their posts at the NBP maximum security compound.

BuCor data showed there were 30,418 PDLs at NBP: 18,991 in the maximum security compound, 8,608 in medium security and 1,715 in minimum security.

BuCor chief Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. said that of the total, 7,500 were set to be transferred this year to Iwahig, Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte and Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Panabo, Davao del Norte. Each facility would receive 2,500 inmates.

The rest will be moved in batches to soon-to-be-built regional prisons from 2024 to 2027.

Ignored for decades

The transfer will jumpstart BuCor’s effort to close NBP within five years and convert the remaining 367 hectares of the NBP Reservation into a government center called “BuCor Global City.” Parts of it will be leased to private entities to generate funds for the government.

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In a statement on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos congratulated Rivera, saying that with his experience as a career jail officer, “we are confident that he will be able to fully exercise his authority in propelling the jail bureau to becoming a world-class agency and a premiere safekeeping institution for PDLs.” The BJMP is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Before heading the BJMP, Rivera was its second highest official, being the deputy chief of administration since July 2019. He had been acting BJMP chief since March, after Iral’s early retirement.

The BJMP welcomed Rivera’s promotion, saying he “played a vital role in implementing innovative programs and initiatives” in the agency.

“In his 28 years in public service, jail director Rivera brings a distinguished career in jail management to this position. With his years of experience in various capacities within the BJMP, he displayed exemplary dedication and commitment to the bureau’s mission of ensuring safe and humane custody of PDLs,” it added.

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A member of the Patnubay Class of 1995, Rivera received his degree in public safety from the Philippine National Police Academy.

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TAGS: Allan Iral, Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Gregorio Catapang Jr., jail decongestion

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