THE influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to call a “correctional summit” to address the problem of illegal drugs and other core issues besetting the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
The CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care (ECPPC) came out with the proposal as authorities continue to struggle on how to solve the proliferation of illegal drugs, among other illicit activities, inside the penitentiary despite implementation of stringent security measures.
“We have already suggested the holding of a correctional summit to be initiated by Congress. Let’s allocate a budget for it and invite experts in penology, in the correctional field,” commission executive secretary Bro. Rodolfo Diamante said on Thursday over Church-run Radio Veritas.
Diamante said they are coordinating with the Integrated Correctional Association of the Philippines, Action for Youth Offenders and the National Police Commission (Napolcom) technical committee on crime prevention and criminal and juvenile justice to help realize their proposal for a correctional summit.
“We are willing to sit in [at the correctional summit] with our little resources to address the problems at the NBP,” he added.
Diamante appealed to authorities to focus on the problems and look for solutions, not on personalities, apparently referring to Sen. Leila de Lima, who is being held responsible by the Duterte administration for the lucrative drug trade inside the NBP.
“Let us go beyond the personalities. They are pushing for a political agenda, which is so personal, using their positions… It’s about time, please go beyond yourself,” he said.
The House Committee on Justice is investigating de Lima for allegedly dipping her hands into the illegal-drug trade in the NBP when she was Justice secretary.
The senator is also accused of using drug money when she ran for senator through regular remittances from high-profile prisoners.
On Wednesday, a jail riot erupted at Detention Facility No. 13 of the NBP where high-profile detainees who are being linked to de Lima are held.
One of the prisoners, Tony Co, died while four others–Jaybee Sebastian, Peter Co, Vicente Sy and Clarence Dongail–were wounded.
Some 1,200 drug pushers and users have been killed since the Duterte administration launched its war against illegal drugs.
WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL