THE NEED TO UNIFY JAIL SYSTEMS IN THE PHILIPPINES
Senate Resolution N. 75 as introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (during the First Regular Session, Sixteenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines) directs the proper senate committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the reported need to unify jail systems in the Philippines. The resolution focuses only on the jail system—the municipal, city, district, provincial jail all over the country.
It is noted that only the Municipal, City and District Jails are within the supervisory ambit of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Provincial Jails are under the direct administrative and operational supervision of local government (The provincial governor pursuant to the New Local Government Code is the warden). The resolution aims to consider the integration of all jails system within BJMP management and administration.
Despite the fact that BJMP is ideally in charge of Municipal, City and District Jails all over the country, there are still Municipal, City and District Jails which have been outside of BJMP’s administration because of the agency’s lack of manpower and not enough appropriated funds.
The road towards the inclusion of Provincial Jail under the supervision and management of BJMP is almost completed. There are provincial jails which opted to request BJMP for technical and operational supervision already. Lacking is the formality or a law that would eventually transfer all Provincial Jail system from management of local government to BJMP.
The Senate Resolution does not however infer (although it could advance through the inquiry) the integration of the entire corrective services in the country. Although it has been reported as an issue to be addressed accordingly , like the jail system, as fragmented and does not have any standard rule in the maintenance and handling of persons deprived of liberty, the resolution could lead towards a bigger inquiry and concern that would include not only the jail system but the prison system as well.
The Resolution may proceed further with the integration into one agency all corrective services in the country—-the institutional (which includes jails and prisons) and non-institutional (which includes probation and parole). This agency may be referred to as Commission on Corrections, where it is led by a Chairman and governed by respective Commissioners (on Jails, Prisons, Parole and Probation).
The establishment of a Commission on Corrections may virtually affect the recent laws passed pertaining the Bureau of Corrections, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Probation and Parole Administration and offices in the Department of Social Services and Development in charge of Children in Conflict with the Law and other agencies with lock-ups and detention centers like the AFP Custocial Center, Immigration Detention Facilities and NBI lock ups. The Commission on Corrections can effectively define the proper standards in handling and treatment of all persons under custody of law in the country.