No. of convicted public servants up 5,300% in 2010

by Jojo Malig,

Posted at Sep 13 2011 09:59 PM | Updated as of Sep 15 2011 04:55 AM

No. of convicted public servants up 5,300% in 2010 1
Jails nationwide housed 59,289 inmates as of end-2010. Meanwhile, convicts in national penitentiaries reached 35,937, according to the NSCB.

MANILA, Philippines - The number of government officials and employees found guilty and imprisoned for corruption and other crimes significantly went up in 2010 from 2009, latest government data showed.

The number of former government workers imprisoned reached 2,053 in 2010, the year President Aquino assumed the presidency, up from just 38 in 2009, the last full year of the Arroyo presidency, according to new figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB).

NCSB secretary-general  Dr. Romulo Virola said these erring government officials and employees are serving sentences for malfeasance, bribery, fraud, malversation of public funds or property, infidelity, and other offenses like usurpation of powers, unlawful appointments, and abuses against chastity.

"Noticeable were the huge increases in the number of prisoners convicted of crimes committed by public officers from 38 in 2009 to 2,053 in 2010; and crimes against personal liberty and security, from 180 in 2009 to 744 in 2010," Virola said.

The NSCB said there was a 5,302% increase in prisoners convicted of crimes committed by public officers from 2009 to 2010.

Virola on Monday released new data on the state of the jail and prison system in the country.

He revealed the continued overcrowding of jails, which were operating at around 446.1% of their maximum capacity as of end-December 2010.

In simple numbers, around 46 inmates are packed together in a jail cell designed for only 10 detainees.

Going past the ideal density of 4.7 square meters per inmate, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facilities nationwide housed 59,289 inmates, up by 22.9% from 2009, Virola said.

He added that Metro Manila had the most number of inmates and most congested jails, with almost one-third of the BJMP jail population in the National Capital Region. 

Other jails that house many inmates are found in Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Davao, and Eastern Visayas.

The NSCB chief said of the total number of inmates, 56,479 or 95.3 % were detained while and 2,810 or 4.7%  were sentenced. The figures represent an increase of 3.3% and a decrease of 4.7%, respectively, from 2009. Meanwhile, 1,147 were temporarily placed in police jails in 2010, up 5% from 2009.

The total number of jail inmates rose to 60,893 as of February 2011, according to BJMP data.

7 penitentiaries

BJMP local jails house people under investigation for crimes, awaiting or undergoing trial, awaiting final judgment, or serving short-term sentences.

They do not include convicted criminals placed in national penitentiaries managed by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) such as the National Bilibid Prison, the Correctional Institution for Women, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm, the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm, and the Leyte Regional Farm.

According to Virola, the number of convicts in BuCor prisons slightly rose to 35,937 as of end-December 2010 from 35,934 in 2009.

He said Metro Manila had the highest number of convicted prisoners at 9,785.

"Bothersome is the fact that almost half of the prisoners (47.5%) confined in the seven prison facilities throughout the Philippines in 2010 were under maximum security," the NCSB chief said.

People who get life sentences for serious crimes are placed in maximum security prison facilities.

Virola said in 2010, the majority of prisoners, or 18,554, were convicted of crimes against persons such as murder, homicide, and physical injury.

Prisoners convicted of  drug-related offenses reached 4,766; prisoners convicted of  crimes against property number numbered 3,990; while prisoners convicted of crimes against chastity reached 2,435.

"In 2010, about 63 out of every 100 BuCor prisoners were aged 22-39 years, generally the most productive years in one's life," Virola said.

Seniors, illiterates, foreigners, youths

He added that 30 in 100 were 40-59 years of age while 4 in 100 were senior citizens.

"Maybe about time we considered commuting the remaining sentence of senior citizens by 20%?" he asked.

"About 44 per 100 prisoners are either illiterate or have not finished elementary school. Which goes to show how important education is! But not always, as 10 out of 100 prisoners reached college," Virola added.

There are also 187 foreigners serving prison terms in the Philippines, according to NCSB data.

Youths who ran afoul of the law and were placed under the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development fell by more than 50.0% from 2,631 in 2009 to 1,207 in 2010.

"The big reductions occurred in Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and SOCCSKSARGEN," Virola said. "It is not clear whether the substantial reduction is due to the decrease in the number of CICLs (children in conflict with the law) or in the capacity of the DSWD to provide services."

Cost of slow justice

The NSCB secretary general said the General Appropriations Act for 2011 allocated around P5.151 billion to the BJMP for an estimated 65,165 inmates.

The BuCor, meanwhile, has a budget of P1.51 billion for an estimated 39,545 inmates this year.

"Thus, the government has allocated Ph79,045.91 per BJMP inmate and Ph P38,200.18 per BuCor inmate for 2011," Virola said. "The cost disparity arises from the expensive maintenance of BJMP jails which are widely dispersed throughout the country."

Under the BJMP and BuCor budgets, each detainee or prisoner is allotted a daily subsistence allowance  of P50 per day or P18,250 per year.

Each prisoner and detainee also gets a medicine allowance of P3 per day or P1,095 for the year.  

Virola said the figures show that prisoners and inmates are living above the national per capita poverty threshold of P18,157 for 2011.

"No wonder therefore, that some prisoners would rather stay in jail!" he said.

Citing the amount of taxpayers money used to operate prisons and jails and detain inmates and rehabilitate those convicted of crimes, Virola said "the government is paying a high price for the very slow judicial processes  in the country."