New P50-B prison to rise in Nueva Ecija
MANILA, Philippines—A new P50-billion correctional facility for convicts from Luzon will rise over the next three years in Nueva Ecija, moving inmates away from Metro Manila and giving way for the commercial development of the sprawling government property in Muntinlupa.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said this on Friday at the launch of the implementing rules and regulations of the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, which seeks to modernize the country’s corrections system that is plagued by decrepit facilities, overcrowding and security loopholes that tend to allow criminal activity even inside the prison walls.
De Lima said the justice department and BuCor are working together with the Department of Finance and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center to finalize the transfer of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) from its current site in Muntinlupa City to Laur, Nueva Ecija.
She said a bids and awards committee is being constituted for the project, for which the government is seeking private sector partners.
“If it pushes through, based on our timetable, the bidding will happen in the early part of 2015…The estimated period for construction would be three years, so that’s already past 2016. After three years, we can transfer the inmates [from Muntinlupa],” De Lima said.
Under the proposal, the current NBP site measuring at least 300 hectares would be sold. But the government will retain “about 50 to 70 hectares” for the establishment of facilities such as the BuCor Correctional Academy and the DOJ Academy, for the training of corrections officers, investigation agents and prosecutors.
She said the NBP site, which is “prime land,” can then be sold and used for commercial purposes.
She said the construction of the Laur facility, which will house convicts from across Luzon, is part of the regionalization and upgrading of the country’s prison system, where government aims to provide a truly reformative environment for convicts.
“The rationale, of course, is the accessibility to the loved ones of the inmates. And I think it’s a proven fact, studies show that if the inmates are regularly visited by their families and friends, it helps in their reformative attitude,” De Lima said.
BuCor currently runs seven prison facilities across the country, including the Muntinlupa facility, the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong and penal farms in Davao, Occidental Mindoro and Palawan.
De Lima said the other facilities would also be improved under the modernization program, with the goal of bringing the country’s prisons on par with international standards.
Under the IRR, BuCor personnel will also have their salaries doubled as a way of deterring them from getting involved in illegal activities within the correctional facilities.
“Some are coopted because their compensation is very low,” De Lima said.
Meanwhile, De Lima said a two-story structure inside the NBP rumored to be a house built for convicted drug lord Amin Buratong was a prayer facility for Muslim inmates which may have been built with donations.
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