(Photo courtesy of DOJ)

MANILA – Plans to decongest the country's prison facilities will include an effective rehabilitation program for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.

This came as the agency revealed a plan to move some facilities of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) from Muntinlupa City to Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

“(T)here are plans to move BuCor facilities to Nueva Ecija at Fort Magsaysay. We want to address the congestion problem in NBP (New Bilibid Prison) in Muntinlupa in order to provide humane living conditions to the prisoners," DOJ spokesperson and incoming Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said in a message to reporters.

Clavano said these plans would be coordinated with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of National Defense (DND).

Fort Magsaysay, a military reservation, is under the DND while the rehabilitation facility inside it, the Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center (MDATRC), is supervised by the DOH.

“The plans include repurposing NBP. We want to maximize space and make sure it is not overcrowded. Maganda sa Fort Magsaysay dahil may existing na drug rehabilitation facility doon (That place is pleasant and there is an existing drug rehabilitation area there). Either medium or minimum security prison and ilalagay doon (will be put there)” Clavano said.

On Thursday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag conducted an ocular inspection at the MDATRC for the possible expansion of BuCor facilities. They were accompanied by Maj. Gen. Andrew Costelo, commander of the Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division.

In a statement, Bantag said the BuCor "is determined to improve its facilities and to push decongestion strategies in order to help the Persons Deprived of Liberty specifically in their reformation as preparation for their eventual reintegration into the mainstream of society in the best way possible". (PNA)