THE STATUS OF THE NATIONAL PENITENTIARY
HARD FACTS AND THE TRUTH:
ON THE MATTER OF TRANSFERRING
NEW BILIBID PRISON/ CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION FOR WOMEN
- On September 6, 2006, PGMA issued Executive Order 568 in re Transferring the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) from Barangay Poblacion, Muntinlupa City, to Barangay Cuyambay, Municipality of Tanay, Province of Rizal. It was a result of a stand and study conducted by a Committee created for purposes of determining the use of government land presided by Housing and Urban Development Council chair, then VP Noli de Castro with several government agencies as members (DoJ, DENR, NHA, BuCor, OP, LRA, among others). EO 568 ordered DOJ to “carry out or cause the transfer of the New Bilibid prison from its current site at Barangay Poblacion, Muntinlupa City, Metro manila, to Barangay Cuyambay, Municipality of Tanay, Province of Rizal.”
- EO 568 is specific. Accordingly, “The DOJ shall be responsible for the performance and coordination of all tasks and activities related to the transfer of the New Bilibid Prison such as the preparation of the technical plans for the new site, the procurement of works and services, and the development and management of the new correctional facilitiy, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and other concerned government agencies.”
- EO 568 issued a timeline to jumpstart the process of transferring. Hence, “ The DoJ and other concerned agencies shall prepare and finalize the implementation scheme and financing plan for the transfer of New bilibid Prison within six (6) months from the date of issue of this Executive Order.” Five (5) months later, DOJ SoJ issued Department Order 164 dated February 20, 2007 “Constituting a Special Committee on the Implementation of Executive Order No. 568 series of 2006” chaired by Doj Usec Fidel Exconde, Jr. The Committee had around three meeting sessions but never had enough periods to deliberate specific provisions of the EO.
- On November 26, 2009, two years later, Presidential Proclamation 1952 was issued amending Presidential Proclamation 1159. (Note that after the issuance of EO 568 in September, 2006, there were two consecutive Presidential Proclamations issued (PP 1158 which allocated 270 hectares in Tanay, Rizal Province and PP 1159 which declared NBP as Government and Socialized Housing site). PP 1952 amended PP 1159. In said amendment, the emphasis was changed. Instead of the whole NBP estate affected by the development plan covered and designed pursuant to PP1159, what was indicated was the 78 hectares only from the whole NBP estate to be distributed in favor of DENR and Office of the President. In other words, PP 1952 rendered the NBP Development Plan as irrelevant and without legal basis anymore. If at all there will be changes, only that prison program or activity within the affected 78 hectares which will be moved out. The entire NBP estate remains as it was under the amended Presidential Proclamation.
- Under this situation, BuCor under whose supervision NBP belongs retained its usual and regular conduct of its mandate. Since the development of the 78 hectares OP and DENR was conducted on a low key manner, the construction of a major access road splicing through the middle of the NBP prison reservation created a number of inconvenience which later would be the cause of certain security irregularities. The infrastructure meddled literally with the usual movement of minimum security prisoners on whose area of work assignment, the access road passed through.
- This situation would further be highlighted during the conduct of the DOJ Panel created for purposes of investigating the so called Leviste case which started in May 18, 2011 (the date when inmate Leviste was arrested while on furlough in Makati City) . In said DOJ Panel findings, it was noted that NBP grounds are loose that contributed to security lapses. The road construction added more confusion in the course of the investigation lending an ambiance of disorder. Hence, when the final report of DOJ Panel was submitted, the issue of transferring NBP has been resurrected. As a result of the DOJ Panel report, DOJ issued the creation of a Technical Working Group on June 22, 2011 to study NBP problems which included the plans for the transfer of NBP.
- The DOJ TWG never met but the Panel’s Report was furnished concerned members including the Director of the Bureau of Corrections.
- In response to the DOJ Panel Report on the matter of transferring NBP, BuCor submitted on October 6, 2011 a memorandum to DOJ in re NBP Transfer. In said Memorandum, Bucor enumerated its plan for the transfer program. (ADB through Japan Technical Assistance Program has commissioned consultants to conduct a study. A series of consultations with the Department of Finance led to the proposed inclusion of a funding scheme for the 2013 budget.)
- On February 7, 2012, DOJ issued a Memorandum based on PMS Sec Abad Memorandum on the Presidential Directive (dated January 26, 2012) to check the relocation of BuCor facilities in relation to local government units affected. This is also a response from an earlier review conducted by DoJ in their 2nd Management Committee meeting (February 6, 2012) on the matter of transferring NBP and CIW.
- This would be followed by a series of coordinative memorandum from DoJ, BuCor and other government agencies. BuCor shifted on its view as far as the relocation site is concerned. Instead of heading to Tanay where a parcel of lot has been proclaimed for prison transfer, a portion of a military camp in central Luzon was eyed instead. The site would be ideal since it is strategically located in the middle of Luzon, a practical site to service both north and south of the island.
- On February 27, 2012, Bucor submitted a Memorandum to DoJ on its recommendations on the Transfer of NBP/CIW. It included six principal considerations for the transfer scheme and highlighted five related recommendations to jumpstart the transfer process.
- On March 29, 2012 the Office of the Solicitor General issued an office order creating an OSG-BuCor Task Force to review, check and defend BuCor assets and property holdings. This is relevant and in keeping with the transfer scheme since the initial approach would entail the distribution of prisoners from NBP to penal establishment earlier determined by DoJ as regional prisons.
- On April 2, 2012, BuCor issued a special order creating the Committee on the Transfer of NBP and CIW.
- Recent DoJ Order in response to the February 27, 2012 BuCor recommendation, approved the transfer of prisoners to various penal establishments including military camps. The tenor of the transfer therefore has been defined and has commenced accordingly.
- 1. The much vaunted, much discussed transfer of NBP as contemplated is not actually a wholesale transfer. Presidential Proclamations issued were amended to mean that NBP estate, that is, only a portion of it will be used for socialized housing. It is already on track and given. The earlier site development plan drafted (which covered the entire NBP estate) in relation to a previously issued Presidential Proclamation, after the latter was amended, has been abandoned already.
- 2. The issuance of a DOJ Order as follow through to BuCor transfer memo confirmed the fact that the transfer process is a redistribution procedure of prisoners to various penal establishments and military installations. Not only is the BuCor central office assured of its official area since it would be retained but a portion of that which has been declared for housing indicates a specific section is intended for correctional officers.