MANILA — In a bid to ease congestion at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Sunday said more persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) aged 70 and above may be granted parole and good conduct time allowance (GCTA) benefits.
In a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, BuCor officer-in-charge Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said elderly inmates may be granted such rewards for their release if they behaved properly inside the prison and they have already served half of their sentence.
The move also aims to address crime and corruption within the penal system.
“Iyong 70 years old kasi, meron daw ‘yan na executive order na pinirmahan ni former president Gloria [Macapagal-Arroyo]. Meron daw iyon na puwedeng 70 years old ma-parole or executive clemency. Pero titingnan pa namin kung paano ikakamada,” said Catapang.
(There was supposedly an executive order signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that those at least 70 years old may be granted parole or executive clemency. But we're still checking that.)
“Dumadaan po ‘yan sa proseso. Hindi naman sila basta-basta mare-release kung hindi naaayos ‘yung kanilang mga documents na talagang they are due for release o na-serve na nila ‘yung kanilang sentence,” he added.
(This has to go through the process. They just can't be released if their documents are not fixed to indicate that they are due for release already or that they have served their sentence.)
Catapang noted that there are thousands of 70-year-old and above inmates at the NBP, the country's main penitentiary located in Muntinlupa.
Freed inmates are given transportation allowances, and are required to report to their parole officers as they reintegrate themselves to society.
As early as January next year, about 2,000 to 3,000 inmates will be transferred to the drug rehabilitation facility at military reservation Fort Ramon Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Catapang said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is still coordinating with the Department of National Defense (DND) and Department of Health (DOH) to use the facility.
“Iyong detalye niyan, hihimayin pa namin. Pero iyan na iyong mga programs namin na puwede talagang makatulong ma-decongest iyong ating Bilibid,” said Catapang.
(We are still ironing out details of that plan. But those are our programs to help decongest the Bilibid.)
The NBP is among the largest prisons in the world, yet has a 344 percent congestion rate as it currently accommodates more than 28,000 PDLs, making it a breeding ground for corruption and crimes.
The Oct. 3 killing of radio commentator Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa was allegedly planned inside the NBP while one of the alleged middlemen in the crime, inmate Jun Villamor, died allegedly in the hands of his fellow PDLs inside the prison's maximum security compound.
Authorities also recently uncovered the presence of contrabands and animals inside the NBP, while more than a hundred corpses of PDLs were left unclaimed at a funeral home in Muntinlupa City.
A pit allegedly used for treasure hunting within NBP was also revealed recently, after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag was allegedly looking for the fabled Yamashita treasure within the prison complex.