BuCor: Regionalization still best way to ease jail congestion woes

By Benjamin Pulta

February 6, 2024, 5:26 pm

<p>BuCor director general Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. <em>(File photo)</em></p>

BuCor director general Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Tuesday said the regionalization of correction facilities is still the most potent solution to ease living conditions for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), despite decongestion efforts being undertaken by the government.

In a report submitted to Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Undersecretary Deo Marco, BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said the rate of admission in BuCor facilities was significantly higher than the number of releases.

Over the past five years, Catapang said the average number of PDL releases was at 5,327 per year while the average number of PDLs admitted was at 7,823 per year.

“Under this condition, PDL population will continue to grow at steady rates making regionalization the most potent solution,” he said.

Catapang also said that as a stop gap measure in alleviating overcrowding at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, the BuCor continues to transfer PDLs from the national penitentiary to other operating prison and penal farms (OPPF).

Meanwhile, some female PDLs from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City were also transferred to the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

From June 2022 to Jan. 31 this year, BuCor has transferred 3,259 PDLs from NBP and CIW to the Leyte Regional Prison, Davao Prison and Penal Farm, Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm and the IPPF.

Under the “Bilis Laya” program of the BuCor and DOJ, Catapang said, a total of 11,347 PDLs from June 2022 to January 2024 have been released, with an average number of 567 releases per month.

Following the extensive meetings of management screening and evaluation committees in all OPPFs of the BuCor, Catapang said more PDLs would be eventually released upon evaluation of their Good Conduct Time Allowance.

He added that from Jan. 1 to 30, 2024, 632 PDLs were released from confinement "bureau wide", which is 11.4 percent higher than the 20-month average releases.

The BuCor has already forwarded 36,044 PDL prison records to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) for evaluation, deliberation and resolution pursuant to a DOJ memorandum issued in September 2023.

The bureau is also closely monitoring processes involving PDLs and resolving issues and concerns encountered from time to time.

These efforts include monthly meetings of BuCor officers engaged in the review of PDL releases with BPP chairperson Sergio Calizo. (PNA)