SENATORS on Wednesday told the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to immediately address the congestion rate in national penitentiaries across the country at over 300%, with one solon calling the prison conditions as “inhumane.”  

At the budget hearing of the Department of Justice, which includes BuCor, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said the 344% congestion rate at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) alone, the main national penitentiary, is “inhumane” especially during the coronavirus pandemic.  

Mr. Drilon said the preliminary works to move the NBP to another location from Muntinlupa City must begin before the end of the Duterte administration in June 2022.   

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra told the hearing that “there will be some very clear plans about the intention to transfer the location of the National Bilibid Prison elsewhere” before the current administration steps down.   

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, said the BuCor and the Justice department must come up with a five to 10-year plan to decongest jails in the country “so that we in Congress can respond accordingly and find ways to fund this every year.”  

BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel P. Chaclag said the Bilibid, built with a capacity for 6,435 prisoners, has a total population of 28,545 as of Aug. 2021.  

Mr. Chaclag added that the average congestion rate in seven prisons and penal farms in the country is 303%. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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