Drilon proposes selling New Bilibid, calls for regional prisons system
Senator Franklin Drilon on Wednesday proposed to sell the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa, and use the proceeds from the sale to create regional prisons across the country.
By selling the prisons complex, about 35 kilometers south of Manila, the government will free a very important state asset, Drilon, who chairs the Senate finance committee, told reporters in an interview.
"Our Muntinlupa prison system stands on a property that is worth $1 billion,” he said, noting that the Privatization and Management Office could handle the transaction.
“We can utilize the asset better... We should sell it," Drilon said after Wednesday's hearing on the Department of Justice’s proposed budget (DOJ) for 2013.
During Wednesday's hearing, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III said the DOJ is in talks with the Department of Finance and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council on transferring the NBP to other sites.
With this, Drilon said government could start a regional system of prisons under the national penitentiary program.
Not only would this help decongest detention facilities, but also allow prisoners to be closer and accessible to their relatives, the senator noted.
"[The] rehabilitation of prisoners can be better served when their relatives can visit them… And certainly people in Visayas and Mindanao have difficulty going to Muntinlupa to visit their prisoner-relatives," he said.
He cited the Leyte prison system which sits on 861 hectares of government property.
"We can expand the Leyte prison system so that it can become a regional prison system for the Visayas. Also, in Mindanao, we have several detention centers there that can be expanded so prisoners can be incarcerated in Mindanao’s detention center," he said.
As of 2011, the Philippine inmate population was 36,295 but the capacity of our existing prison system is 17,719, Drilon said. — VS, GMA News
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