DOJ: Proposal on separate jails for Muslim PDL need careful study

By Benjamin Pulta

February 26, 2024, 6:54 pm

<p>Muslim persons deprived of liberty at San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga <em>(Photo courtesy of BuCor)</em></p>

Muslim persons deprived of liberty at San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga (Photo courtesy of BuCor)

MANILA – The proposal to put up prisons solely for Muslim persons deprived of liberty (PDL) needs careful study as it may set an unnecessary precedent.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday said "it can be done” but it has to be comprehensively discussed.

“Separate jails for different religions, the moment they have these, then all other religions might ask for a separate jail facility," Remulla said in a press briefing.

Presidential Adviser on Muslim Affairs Almarim Tillah proposed the creation of a separate prison for Muslims during his Feb. 23 meeting with Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.

Tillah said it could significantly benefit Muslim PDL, particularly in the preservation of their culture even inside penal institutions.

Muslim practices include five prayers daily, proper preparation and serving of halal meals, and the fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.

Catapang told Tillah the proposal will be discussed with the DOJ while Remulla assured PDL of all religions are allowed to practice their faith.

Remulla added they see to it that the food served to Muslims are permissible according to Islamic teachings.

There are 2,807 Muslim PDL in BuCor facilities, including 1,039 at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City and 207 at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City.

Catapang said 657 Muslims have been released from detention since Remulla was appointed in 2022. (PNA)