As drug cases go up, more jails being built
WITH MORE than 100,000 inmates currently housed in 463 government-run prisons nationwide, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said that it hoped to decongest these facilities, particularly the ones in Metro Manila.
In the meantime, it is fast-tracking the construction of more jails outside the metropolis and proposing the tele-hearing system to reduce the risks posed by transporting detained inmates to courthouses.
New prisons being built
In a press conference on Monday, BJMP chief Supt. Serafin Barretto said that several prison houses were being built in Region 4A at a cost of more than P300 million. Some inmates in crowded jails in the metropolis could soon be transferred to these facilities, he added.
Barretto noted the increase in the number of detainees since July, most of them with drug cases.
“Next year, there is a planned P1.6 billion fund for an additional 213 jails in the country,” he said.
He cited in particular the Quezon City Jail, noting that despite a capacity of around 800, it now houses close to 4,000. “What the warden did in Quezon City was to talk to the judges and asked them not to commit inmates to the jail,” Barretto said. New detainees are now being taken to the Quezon City Jail annex in Bicutan, Taguig City.
The BJMP chief said these prisoners would remain in Bicutan until the completion of the new facilities. To make it easier for them to attend their court hearings in Manila, he proposed the tele-hearing system being used in Thailand.
“We would need only monitors and cameras for that with judges, lawyers and witnesses meeting in a regular courtroom while the detainees remain in jail during court proceedings,” he said.
“These measures are, however, not enough to decongest our jails,” Barretto added, saying that of 115,000 inmates this July, they were able to resolve just 3,000 cases.
Aside from these initiatives, the BJMP also announced that it would test all its inmates for drugs to deter drug use inside the facility. As for the costs, Barretto said they would ask local government officials for help.
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