NBP WILL NO LONGER BE TRANSFERRED?
For quite sometime, all systems go for the transfer of New Bilibid Prison to an identified area in a military reservation (Fort Magsaysay) in Laur, Nueva Ecija. The die is cast. There is no other way but prepare for the eventual movement of the penal establishment and along with that the migration of personnel. It is inevitable. Government is bent towards this procedure and the Department of Justice through the Bureau of Corrections, has prepared the necessary requirements. That of course was the scenario a few months ago. The process has started 7 years ago.
Last January 22, 2014, the issue of transfer however has shifted. Director of Corrections Franklin Jesus B. Bucayu implored that if at all there is a significant move to be undertaken, it is the improvement of the agency’s capability first before any movement is to be contemplated. Management of prison records must be sustained by advanced technology including the delivery of rehab and security services. While the agency has received a legislative mandate to modernize with the passage of RA 10575, there are no funds as yet appropriated to bankroll its multifaceted provisions.
Director Bucayu’s argument in analogy simple states : why not treat the patient first before he is to be transferred. At the PPP (Private-Public Partnership) Center where a conference on the issue of tapping the private sector in dealing with the institutional problem and proposal of the Bureau of Corrrections is explored, the entry of technical consultancy of JICA has been affirmed. With the formulation of the prison leadership, the shift became apparent. Bucor must first be improved, must first be responsive to the challenges before another concern is to be addressed.
The PPP conference staff took note of the recommendation and thereupon would work towards its notice to the investing stakeholder. That literally shifted the issue of transfer to institutional improvement.
Historically, the move to transfer to another site was a proposal explored during the Vinarao incumbency. A task force was directed to determine an area in Tanay province where a parcel of land was offered by DENR. This was in 2006. In 2008, the issue of transfer was again brought out. In 2009, the site at Tanay was dropped and a site in Laur, Nueva Ecija was studied. NBP’s estate was appraised and whatever its cost would be applied for the building of a new and modern penal facility. The cost however fell short of the estimated building cost.
Congress would rather appropriate billions for farm to market roads than building a penal facility. Roads would jumpstart the economy and virtually would add revenue to government better than a modern facility for offenders that offer no return.
In 2010, it was referred to and taken up in a Neda-PPP conference where a recommendation on a thorough study must be prepared before a PPP form is to be accomplished. The idea is for a private company to advance the cost for the construction in the following the principle of Build-Operate-Transfer scheme. ADB and the technical officers of DBM immediately responded to assist Bucor. A study was completed but before it could be submitted to the PPP Center for inclusion in the discussion form, the prison leadership was changed. Institutional focus on the transfer proposal took a back seat.
Nothing was heard of for more than a year except for pocket meetings among stakeholders and active specialists in the proposal. There was academic silence from all fronts until a notice was called this current time.
PPP Center staff sought for an update on the transfer issue. Accordingly, technical specialists from Japan through JICA (although it would overlap the ADB-DBM initiative) are willing to get into the picture just so the PPP form will be properly accomplished.
And then Director Bucayu submitted his idea on how to approach the proposal: improve Bucor first and later, discuss the reality of transfer. Improving Bucor requires significant fiduciary application. If at all this is done, only loose change would remain to sustain the process of transfer. Director Bucayu has a brilliant point.
Simply put, NBP will never be transferred anymore.
(It would not be surprising if one day, Director Misa’s sculptured bust relief head at the main entrance gate of NBP would be replaced by that of Director Bucayu.)