WHY SPEND BILLIONS BUILDING A MEGA PRISON WHEN IT’S UNNECESSARY
New Bilibid Prison, studies reveal, is so congested that there is a need to build a mega prison somewhere and transfer the inmates and solve the problem of overcrowding. That at a glance is the main reason why government bided for the construction of a P50.8B regional PPP project. Accordingly, New Bilibid Prison could no longer sustain the proper security management and application of rehabilitation program for around 24,000 inmates confined in a structure good for 10,000 only.
The Bureau of Corrections painstakingly said so. The Department of Justice, in a way, concurred.
But the problem is not begging for an answer that would rip government of its hard earned tax payers’ money just to solve a problem with many solutions. Building a mega prison costing billions is just one. There is the much inexpensive and economical way of transferring excess prison population to penal establishments in the country side. There is also the much practical, legal even because of RA 10592, the new Good Conduct Time Allowance recently passed, if applied would dramatically cut down overcrowding through the releases of qualified prisoners. To a name a few.
But why think of spending so much for so simple a problem? Why buy a big house when one can just move to other houses? What gives? What special consideration are those at New Bilibid Prison that they could not be moved to other organized penal establishments that there is a need to build another spanking and luxurious nay state of the art facility. Penal establishments in the countryside cry for updating and expansion of their facilities at a cost a little fraction of the intended budget for a mega prison. Why spend more?
A couple of years ago, the Department of Justice directed the Bureau of Corrections to formulate a plan to transfer excess prison population to other penal establishments. DOJ furthermore required prison administration to expand, by building additional dormitories in the facilities to accommodate those to be transferred. A budget has been appropriated accordingly and plans were afoot and made for the eventual movement scheme. Then it stopped.
DOJ was on the right track previously when it moved towards the direction of mass transfer of prisoners to penal establishments in the countryside. The sudden turn around stymied reason for no cause at all.
What happens next was that a proposal to build a costly mega prison became the order of the day. It seems like a multibillion worth project is more attractive than a simple economical procedure. It seems like the arduous and routine escorting of inmates to other penal establishments is a tiresome process that transferring en masse to another location notwithstanding prohibitive cost is more preferable.
Building a P50B+ megastructure does not stop there. Another multi-billion peso infrastructure program must also attend to it. A facility without roads is just a pie in the sky, a very expensive pie. And the route is not our regular short cut to a marketplace. It means a number of kilometers of paved roads to construct from one far out terminal to another far off one. And what will the tax payer gets in return? And how do we envision an approximate P100B project could solve a social problem without creating a monstrous one in the final count?
I don’t think it is wise and prudent that this project will proceed smoothly, unless of course government is oozing with resources, unless of course our economy is as prosperous as a developed country, unless of course all imperatives of the criminal justice administration have achieved a certain degree of sophistication. Competence in managing the crucial affairs in correctional administration is still better than being spendthrift.
Besides, I don’t think DOJ, this time, would allow this sleight of hand to pass through its better judgment. I tell you, this will never happen within the timeline of straight path governance.