THE CONGESTED Manila City Jail will soon get a much-needed facelift.
Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada on Sunday said he has allotted P26 million to do renovations to the city jail, also known as “Old Bilibid.”
The jail warden, Supt. Fermin Enriquez, said the funds would be spent for the “facelift of the male and female dormitories, toilets, shower rooms, drainage systems, and other amenities.”
Three prisoner transport vans, security cameras, biometric scanners for visitors and desktop computers have also been procured, Enriquez added.
A statement described the new project of the Estrada administration as a “show [of Mayor Estrada’s]compassion to those incarcerated in prison.”
The jail in Santa Cruz district, built in 18th century when the country was under the rule of the Spanish empire, is in disrepair.
Many areas are dilapidated, and spaces are woefully lacking for the huge number of prisoners who have been either attending trials for the charges slapped on them, or awaiting the long-delayed decision of the courts.
Estrada’s office said that as of July, the jail has a total of 4,278 inmates, “four times more than its designed capacity.”
Estrada’s office specifically noted that there are 3,600 male inmates and 678 females cramped in 23 run-down dormitories.
“[Being] law offenders does not mean they have to be detained in an old, decrepit and crowded prison. They are humans, too,” the mayor, a former President, said.
Detention facilities, he pointed out, are not supposed to punish detainees, but to help them reform and become responsible citizens again after their release.
Estrada also criticized previous city mayors for neglecting the city jail.