MANILA - Suggestions to integrate the Bureau of Corrections with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) may not be a good idea at this time, an official said Tuesday.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said he is "a bit apprehensive" about the suggestion.
"This is just my personal opinion. I think the culture in the BuCor has been rotten to such an extent it would not be good to merge those two agencies at this time," Malaya said on ANC's Headstart.
The BuCor, an attached agency of the Department of Justice, takes care of the country's facilities for crime convicts. The BJMP, on the other hand, is an agency attached to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that oversees district, city and municipal jails where detainees, or those still facing trial, are held.
Malaya said the DILG is proud of the professionalism showed by the BJMP.
"Both the BJMP and BuCor implement the GCTA and there has been no scandal whatsoever in so far as the BJMP is concerned. Mostly the problem is in the Bureau of Corrections," he said.
The Senate has been conducting a series of investigations into anomalies at the BuCor, particularly the "good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for sale" racket.
The GCTA is a law that allows the early release of inmates based on good conduct credits. It drew controversy after some 2,000 heinous crime convicts were released because of the policy, in violation of the intent of the law.
Meanwhile, Malaya believes it would help newly-designated BuCor Chief Gerald Bantag, formerly a BJMP official, if he brings people from the jail bureau.
Malaya said it is an "open secret" that any new BuCor chief, once assigned to the New Bilibid Prisons, is at a disadvantage.
"It's really the groups there that run the show. Every time a new chief is assigned to the BuCor and this person has no background whatsoever on the penal system in the Philippines or prison culture, he's at a very big disadvantage," he said.
He added: "It's not simply about systems. It’s not simply about management. It's about the culture."
"We're very hopeful that the new director general can finally fix the problem that is the New Bilibid Prisons," he said.