WHY NEW BILIBID PRISON IN MUNTINLUPA WILL NOT BE TRANSFERRED…YET
Transferring the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa City is one activity estimated to cost government billions of pesos. The construction of facilities alone boggles the mind. Well, it can be done if only government can spare around 13 billion pesos for the building plan. Some believers argue that the source could easily be squeezed from the sale of the Muntinlupa estate—a prime real estate property already. But will it square clearly to meet the cost of transferring? Why transfer at all in the first place. The answer lays on the foundation—an Executive Order from former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The Executive Order requires several departments to formulate a plan to transfer the national penitentiary to another site. The prison reservation is already within the vast real estate enclave where high end subdivisions have sprouted since the Daang Hari road has been paved. While the road has benefited several Cavite towns and has literally unclogged major streets and hi ways, it has also reduced the security buffer of the premiere prison camp to the detriment of civilians who have chosen to live in housing units a stone’s throw from a dangerous zone. Hence, a plan to transfer NBP to another site but the cost is staggering.
The transfer arrangement has been seen in this equation. NBP estate is to be sold and the proceeds will be used to build prison. The cost is almost the same. There were even estimates showing that the transfer cost is even more than what the sale would yield. If the area to be vacated will be used as an industrial zone, then the amount may be feasible to underwrite the transfer expenses. But the “best-use” consideration when applied would amount to less than the expected. By best-use is meant that the idea of utilizing the estate as industrial zone is never contemplated because the area is devoted to housing and not on any industrial program. The development plan also reveals that a large portion of the estate is to be used as housing site for government employees. This means that the proceeds would not reach the ideal computed result.
Will Congress allow the allocation of billions of taxpayers’ money just so NBP will be transferred and subdivisions in the area to flourish? How much will government stand to gain in the process? Will the transfer, like constructing farm-to-market roads, create revenues for government?
There is wisdom in transferring the penal facilities to another site. Prison administration could render a fresh and proper headstart. But is it a priority in a situation where the economics has not started to turn pink yet? For sure, prison transfer while a significant policy of criminal justice administration, it must have to take the back seat however along with several projects. Education and job creation, investment and joint ventures must have to be moved first so that government programs will be able to flex its progressive motion. Pursuing the transfer scheme of the penitentiary is like putting the horse before the cart. It will move nonetheless but its slow and awkward.
That explains the fact why Vice President Jejomar Binay, who also acts as Chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) declared that the plan to develop New Bilibid Prison estate be deferred indefinitely.