SEN. Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Saturday slammed the giving of special favors to some high-profile inmates.
“How can there be justice in our correctional system when we have a double standard between poor and rich inmates?” Santiago asked.
The senator cited reports that some high-risk prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) enjoy air conditioned rooms, illegal drugs and alcohol.
“These prisoners are supposed to be experiencing punishment for their crimes, not taking a vacation. They are making a mockery out of the justice system by turning our jails into their own private resorts,” Santiago said.
These reports prompted the senator to file Senate Resolution No. 525, calling for a Senate investigation on the anomalous situation at the national penitentiary.
“The same thing is happening in other prison complexes in the country. If this can happen in a maximum security compound, who knows what else happens in other jails?” she said.
Santiago also filed Senate Bill No. 1759, or the “No Frills Prison Bill,” to eliminate “luxurious” prison conditions by mandating average standard living conditions and opportunities for every prisoner.
Santiago’s proposed law prohibits access by all prisoners to certain luxuries such as TV sets, cellphones and computers. It also imposes additional restrictions for prisoners serving a sentence for violent crimes.
“Under the equal protection clause of the Constitution, all persons similarly situated should receive similar treatment. It does not matter whether you’re a Johnny caught picking pockets or a Johnny charged with plunder. All detainees and prisoners, whether common criminals or senators, should have the same accommodations,” she said.