A BILL seeking to establish penal farms in different regions across the Philippines to decongest jails and improve the reformation program for prisoners has been filed at the Senate.
“Ultimately, this bill seeks to create additional regional penal institutions not only to address the severe congestion in the country’s jails and prisons, but to also ensure the welfare of persons serving final judgment as they await their reintegration to society,” neophyte Senator Robinhood Ferdinand “Robin” C. Padilla said in a statement on Monday.
Senate Bill 235 proposes to set up penitentiary systems in at least 10 regions using a “standard and uniform design” for the prison complex, reformation and administrative facilities.
Mr. Padilla cited that there are only seven penitentiary institutions nationwide, which are mostly crowded and also affect visitation privileges for family members of inmates.
“Recognizing therefore the paramount role of the family in providing emotional, moral and psychosocial support to every person serving final judgment,” he said, “this measure is being proposed to widen the opportunities of families and other support groups to pay a visit to their loved ones inside the penitentiaries.”
The bill mandates the Bureau of Corrections to create an infrastructure plan, coordinate the construction of the regional penitentiaries, and carry out the decentralization and transfer of prisoners to the regional penal farms.
Funds necessary for the implementation of the proposed law will be included in the annual national budget.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla and Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. have said their agencies are working together to address congestion in the country’s jails.
Mr. Abalos plans to ask local governments to donate plots of land to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology where additional jail facilities can be built.
Mr. Remulla said there are 17,000 inmates in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City, which was designed to house 6,000 inmates. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan