MANILA, Philippines - A total of 887 inmates detained in prison facilities under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), including the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), escaped during the period 2000 up to April 2011.
Records of the BuCor obtained by ABS-CBN News revealed that the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Panabo, Davao registered the highest number of escapees with 227.
The NBP came in second with 212; followed by the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan with 184; the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro with 147; the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City with 80; the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte with 22; and the Correctional Institution for Women with 10.
Of the 887 inmates who escaped, 246 were retrieved. Over 300 inmates who escaped in previous years were also retrieved.
Data for 2011 showed that the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm has the highest number of escapees for January up to April, registering 7 out of a total number of 2,249 inmates; followed by the Davao Prison and Penal Farm with 5 out of 5,852 inmates; the NBP with 4 out of 19,722 inmates; the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm with 2 out of 3,427 inmates; and the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte with 1 out of 1,674 inmates.
The Correctional Institution for Women and the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm both registered zero. Currently, there are 1,825 inmates at the Women's Correctional and 1,450 at the San Ramon facility.
The prison facilities registered the most number of escapees in 2001 with a total number of 128 escapees; followed by 117 in 2003; and 106 in 2000.
The year 2001 registered the least number of escapees at 19 -- a far cry from the second-next least number of escapees of 55 way back in 2007.
Shift from punitive to corrective
The decline came with the shift in approach from the traditional punitive to corrective, restorative and rehabilitative objectives implemented by the BuCor in all prison facilities it runs, under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The following are the BuCor's rehabilitation programs in place at the various facilities:
1. Education - Under this program, inmates are given an opportunity to experience formal education classes from intermediate, secondary to collegiate courses. As an an alternative, vocational and livelihood skills training like basic electronics and automotive repair, practical electricity, handicraft making, art paintings, clothing designs, basic welding, and computer literacy courses for juvenile offenders are offered. A sub-program dubbed Alternative Learning System deals on adult literacy and values formation.
2. Livelihood - Inmates are provided with agro-industrial work programs for them to earn money. At the facility in Davao, for example, inmates work at the TADECO banana plantation earning minimum wage. Inmates at the NBP also have the opportunity to work for SAMSUNG and PILCO, and in the colonies, inmates engage in farming and handicraft-making. The livelihood program is intended to empower inmates to be productive when they are released from serving their sentences.
3. Sports and recreation - Under this program, sports and recreation programs are offered in the 7 prisons and penal farms. These include basketball, volleyball, lawn tennis, table tennis, billiard and indoor games like chess and scrabble. Inter-dormitory sports tournaments are also scheduled wherein inmates engage in friendly competition to enhance camaraderie in the prison facilities and penal farms.
4. Religious and welfare - This enables inmates to practice their religion inside the prison and penal farms. Religious volunteers from the various churches, congregations and religious denominations are allowed to enter the camps for religious worship, seminars and other religious activities. The BuCor's Chaiplancy Office meantime offers prayers, ministerial and para-liturgical activities. Data shows 62% of inmates in the BuCor's prisons and penal farms are Catholics, while the rest are Protestants, Muslims, Iglesia ni Cristo members, Baptists, born-again Christians, and others.
5. Health - The NBP's 500-bed capacity hospital offers medical and dental services, while the other prisons and penal farms have their own infirmaries and clinics.
6. Behavior modification - This program includes a Therapeutic Community Program that caters to newly committed inmates, especially those with drug problems. The Reception and Diagnostic Center houses newly committed inmates for a period of 55 days where a pool of psychologists, sociologists and education supervisors talk to them and hold session with them. For their entire stay in the prison and penal farms, inmates may avail of counseling with Religious and Welfare Officers. As for juvenile offenders, behavior modification shall be a continuing program during their stay at the Muntinlupa Juvenile Training Center, while drug offenders avail of the same therapeutic program at the Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center.