A lawmaker on Saturday vowed to push for a bigger budget for the modernization of equipment in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to reduce human intervention between inmates and officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, chairperson of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said the primary reason behind the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary is the web of corruption between inmates and jail guards.
“Why did that become the culture there? Because the responsible official let it happen. He already knew of these operations, that there was this culture, he should have stopped it then,” Barbers said in a statement.
“Mas maganda ‘yung kulungan na less human intervention. Ika nga, gagastos ka na lang din naman. Billion naman ang ating gagastusin sa sinasabi nilang mega kulungan na gagawin, kung ganun lang din, mas maganda siguro kung magkaroon na lang din ng less human intervention [A jail with less human intervention is better. As they say, since we will be spending billions for the establishment of a mega jail, it would be better if we set it up to require less human intervention],” he added.
According to the lawmaker, corrupt practices inside the NBP had led government officials to go astray.
“The web of corruption inside the Bureau of Corrections ay tempting sa mga hepe [is tempting to the chiefs], tempting sa mga jail guards [to the jail guards]. Magkano lang naman kasi ang sinusweldo ng mga ‘yan [this is because they get measly salaries],” he said.
“I’m not justifying their acts of receiving money. Mali yan at dapat kasuhan yan [that’s wrong and they should be charged],” he added.
The lawmaker also pledged to push for the installation of more closed-circuit television cameras and x-ray scanners to reduce contact between jail guards and inmates, stop the ceaseless entry of contrabands, as well as review the system and operations inside the NBP.
He also vowed to consider pushing for the conduct of a lifestyle check on the bureau’s officials as some of them have allegedly acquired several properties beyond their means.
“We have to run after the corrupt officials. If we establish a strong evidence against these officials, dapat automatic kasuhan na agad ito [we should automatically file charges against them],” the lawmaker said.
A hearing conducted by the House justice panel last week tackled the alleged involvement of former Justice Leila de Lima in the illegal drugs trade at the NBP in collusion with some inmates who peddled drugs.