Noting the substandard and inadequate penal facilities in the country, which resulted in over congestion and subhuman conditions of prisoners, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte together with Benguet Rep. Eric Yap have filed a proposed measure that aims to establish an additional penitentiary system in the country to provide prisoners decent and humane accommodation.
“The Constitution vehemently opposes the use of substandard or inadequate penal facilities under subhuman conditions. Despite the said mandate, there are only seven existing correctional facilities in the country which are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor),” Duterte explained.
The seven facilities are the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City; the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City; Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro; San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City; Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte; and the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Panabo, Davao Province.
House Bill No. 8071, or the Regional Penitentiaries Act, seeks to establish and operate additional penal farms in Regions I, II, III, V, VI, VIII, IX, X, XII, XIII, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR ), thereby decongesting existing penal institutions in the country, accommodating the increasing number of inmates committed to the Bureau of Corrections, and giving due credence to the right to decent accommodations of the country’s prisoners.
Yap, on the other hand, said that despite the seven correction facilities spread across the country, congested prisons are still among the pertinent issues faced by the country’s justice system.
In fact, he added, the World Prison Brief still named the Philippines as “the most overcrowded prison system in the world” with 215,000 prisoners overfilling the jails and prisons more than five times the jail or prison’s official capacity. Yap noted that the system has been suffering from long-term neglect.
“Moreover, many of the country’s jails fail to meet the minimum United Nations (UN) standards given the jails’ cases of inadequate food, poor nutrition and unsanitary conditions, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW),” Yap also said.
The lawmakers pointed out that it is the policy of the State to value human dignity and guarantee full respect for human rights regardless of any wrongful act or omission done.
They added that the State likewise adopts the mandate under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Among others, they also said, an adequate standard of living for our prisoners, including decent accommodations, is considered a human right.
Office of Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte Davao City 1st Congressional District Media Release: June 9, 2023