Palace: Treat pork barrel scam inmates humanely


Malacañang on Sunday said detainees allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam have a right to humane treatment.

According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., the government is trying its best to give all detainees equal treatment.

In a radio interview, Coloma said it is not the Aquino administration’s policy to give preferential treatment to anyone accused in a crime.

“Sumusunod ang pamahalaan sa mga utos ng hukuman hinggil sa kung saan idedetine ang mga sangkot sa mga kasong nililitis. Patuloy na sinisikap ng pamahalaan na magbigay ng patas na pagtrato sa lahat ng detainees [The government obeys all court orders on where those implicated in cases should be detained. It is trying to treat all detainees equally],” he added.

Coloma’s statements came after some detainees complained that personalities accused to have been involved in the pork scam are receiving special attention from the government.

One such case is lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes who was immediately transferred by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to the Philippine Heart Center after complaining of chest pains over the weekend.

Reyes, the former chief-of-staff of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, is accused of pocketing millions in public funds through fake projects of bogus non-government organizations.

“Hintayin po natin ang magiging paliwanag ng BJMP. Meron na po tayong natunghayan na paliwanag sa media pero dapat pong sumunod sila sa utos ng hukuman na ipagpaliwanag ‘yung naging kaganapan sa naturang insidente na ‘yan [Let us wait for BJMP’s explanation. Media had reported Reyes’ transfer but the bureau’s explanation about its move should be heard],” Coloma said.

Meanwhile, he gave assurances that the government is also doing its best to address budget problems of jails across the country.

“Nakapaloob na rin po diyan ‘yung pagsisikap na mapahusay . . . at makatuwiran ‘yung pagtrato sa kanila, dahil po ‘yan ay subject din po sa mga limitasyon ng budget [This effort is meant to improve . . . see to it that detainees are treated fairly, but such effort is also subject to budget limitations]” Coloma said.

On Friday, President Benigno Aquino 3rd convened the Cabinet for a first-pass review and discussion of the proposed P2.606-trillion national budget for 2015.

The proposed budget was 15 percent higher than the 2014 general appropriations, increasing allocations for social protection and services; job generation and economic expansion; and climate-change adaptation and mitigation.

As presented by Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Coloma said the conditional cash transfer funds will be raised from P62.6 billion to P78 billion for 2015 due to increased coverage, from 4.3 million households to five million households.

The government is also boosting the allocation for the National Health Insurance Program from P35.3 billion to P37.2 billion, with insurance coverage going up from 14.7 million to 15.4 million.

The 2015 budget also gives additional funds for basic educational facilities, such as classrooms, water and sanitation, from P44.6 billion to P52.7 billion, Coloma said.

To create more jobs, he added, the Aquino administration is allotting more money for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to build roads and bridges, an increase from P130.4 billion to P186.6 billion.

The budget for tourism infrastructure development was also raised from P14.7 billion to P20 billion, as the number of international tourists has gone up from 6.8 million to 8.2 million and domestic tourists from 47.7 million to 51.7 million, Coloma said.

The government is also focused on addressing the impact of climate change, as it allotted more budget for DPWH’s flood-control and drainage projects, from P34.8 billion to P38.6 billion, according to Coloma.


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