Catapang says BuCor failed to reform inmates

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2022 06:03 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2022 10:57 PM

MANILA — Prison inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) will be reeducated about their rights as individuals, including their constitutional protection against torture, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

CHR Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc underlined this as one of the commission’s plans to protect PDLs during the signing of a memorandum of agreement Friday between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the CHR. 

“Meron ho tayong batas eh laban sa torture. So, isa ho yan sa itataguyod na mahalagang ipaalam sa PDLs at sa mga human rights officers sa mga piitan,” Palpal-latoc said in a news conference.

Palpal-latoc and CHR Commissioner Beda Epres, along with BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr. and BuCor executive assistant Angie Bautista, signed the MOA in behalf of the two institutions.

In his speech, Catapang stressed the importance of respecting the rights of inmates, which he admitted, was failed to be observed by the BuCor.

“We have forgotten them (PDLs) for so long a time. We have not treated them like they have rights. To a point that the mission of BuCor has failed in its mission. To safeguard the inmates, yung inmates napapatay ng kapwa inmates. And then our mission that the inmates will not harm, or be a part of conspiracy to harm other people. Kita nyo naman nagkaroon ng middleman sa loob ng prison cell,” Catapang said.

He was referring to a inmates who have been charged for allegedly acting as middlemen and conspirators in the killing of veteran broadcast journalist Percy Lapid.

Catapatang said there should be an effective reformation program for PDLs before they rejoin society.

His signing of MOA with CHR, Catapang said, is part of his move to rebuild the BuCor and give value to inmates' basic rights.

“I think human rights is something very precious to all of us here. We are all witness to this. And I think, of all the things that we really cherish, these are our personal human rights. Even if we are a poor country, we have the right to be speak, to defend ourselves,” Catapang said.

The CHR sees the condition of jail facilities, as well as the PDLs’ poor quality of food and medicine supplies as among the BuCor’s biggest problems.

In the MOA, meantime, the BuCor’s designated human rights officer in each security compound in every prison will also undergo human rights training from the CHR.

The designated HRO will then conduct seminar workshops with PDLs and colleagues in the BuCor, Atty. Brenda Canapi said.

“These are the persons that the PDLs can approach, if they want to air grievances, or a PDL has request. So they can approach the human rights officer of the Bureau of Correction,” Canapi said.