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Bill filed seeking special cells for high-profile prisoners

/ 02:29 AM June 18, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–With a busload of former and incumbent senators, representatives and public officials poised to be arrested for plunder in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, a bill seeking to create a separate detention facility for these VIPs is being pushed in Congress.

ACT-CIS Rep. Samuel D. Pagdilao and Ako Bicol Representatives Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Co have filed in the House committee on public order and security a measure providing for the establishment of a high-profile crime detention center under the Bureau of Corrections.

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“This is a way of professionalizing jail management and penology to segregate them for security and humanitarian reasons,” said Pagdilao, a former police general.

At the Ugnayan sa Batasan forum, Batocabe said the purpose was to create and institutionalize a separate detention facility for certain class of detention prisoners.

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“The courts are always in a quandary where to detain this type of prisoners. As a matter of fact, we are now even preparing the probable detention of those accused in the pork barrel scam. With this bill, the court will just determine if an accused should be detained in this facility,” Batocabe said.

The bill would cover individuals accused of nonbailable offenses except those involving illegal drugs, specifically incumbent or former public officials or appointees accused in high-profile cases or those who have “attracted publicity by reason of the relative position of the parties in society, cases imbued with public interest, or cases that involve national security and safety.”

Dubbed the “high-profile center,” the special facility would be managed by a chief penal superintendent.

Not double standard

The proposed center will have dormitories; a separate administrative building, perimeter or security fence; hospital or infirmary; recreation or multipurpose hall; training and lecture center; mess hall and kitchen; visitors’ area; water tank and pump; reception and diagnostic center; service personnel facilities; and other security facilities.

Batocabe denied that he, Co and Pagdilao were reinforcing the “double standard” system prevalent in the country’s prisons.

“Think of Enrile, Honasan, Jalosjos, Mancao, Garcia, Trillanes, Erap, Jinggoy, Gloria Arroyo and other lesser known personalities. They were not detained in ordinary jails primarily for security reasons. But then, in order not to set double standards, we might just as well establish and institutionalize a detention facility for this class of accused,” Batocabe said.

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“But once convicted with finality, the accused is now a convict and should be detained at the national penitentiary.”

No system

Batocabe noted that there was no established system on how to handle high-profile personalities who have to be kept in military or state medical facilities, such as alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Ampatuans.

Napoles is detained in Fort Sto. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna province; Arroyo at Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City;  and the Ampatuans at the National Bureau of Investigation.

“When there are high-profile personalities involved in crime, they are being detained somewhere else like Sta. Rosa, which is actually not a detention facility or in Camp Crame, which is only temporary and should only serve those in the personnel,” Batocabe said.

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TAGS: Congress, high-profile prisoners, House bill, special cells
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