THE newly appointed director of the Bureau of Corrections(BuCor) has warned inmates, prison guards and officials that he will not hesitate “if necessary to destroy in order to rebuild” the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), which is mired in drug scandal and corruption.
“It’s like an old house [full of termites]. If necessary, we have to rebuild a fresh one, to rid it of bad habits. The most important thing is we have to move to a higher moral ground,” Director Benjamin delos Santos said over the weekend.
He conceded that despite tight security being imposed by the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the installation of signal jammers, some contraband continued to find its way inside the penal facility located in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
“If necessary, exert drastic measures [would be adopted]to finally get rid of this menace [of]drugs, crime, corruption,” delos Santos said.
“Either they [inmates]reform or they die. There are many ways of dying. I heard many would simply jump to their death. Some due to overdose,” he added.
The new BuCor chief said his priority is full implementation of the agency’s modernization program to provide decent salaries and proper training to prison guards.
“I hope we could put up also a correctional academy where we could professionally train correctional officers, ” he added.
“We have a 2013 BuCor Modernization Law that has not been implemented since,” delos Santos noted.
“But the good Secretary of Justice is now pursuing the implementation [of the law]and the Department of Budget and Management is finalizing budget approval,” he said, referring to Vitaliano Aguirre.
Delos Santos earlier announced plans to build a new facility in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija, which has been pending since 2013.
He said the P142-billion project has been halted owing to legal issues raised by private claimants in both the current NBP land in Muntinlupa City and the property in Fort Magsaysay.
The property in Muntinlupa Citywill revert to the original owners if the NBP was transferred, while the land in Fort Magsaysay has been invaded by squatters.
Delos Santos said the existing NBP was originally built to accommodate only 5,000 inmates but the prison population has grown to 23,000.
With the modernization program comes better benefits for NBP jail guards and personnel, he added.