Press Release
August 29, 2012

Transcript of Press Briefing of Senator Franklin M. Drilon
After the Finance Committee's hearing on the Department of Justice's budget
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First on the Ampatuan Case, this is a challenge to Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno because whether we like it or not, the principal source of this disenchantment with the justice system is the long pendency of the Ampatuan case. So, this is a challenge to CJ Sereno to hasten the prosecution of this case, observing due process, of course. To me, we can recommend the following: 1) the trial days be increased to four per week from the present three days, 2) we should augment the prosecution staff of the DoJ, 3) on the part of the SC, maybe they can add assisting judges to the single trial judge today. I hope the present trial judge has been relieved of all other cases; if not, she should be relieved of all other cases so she can concentrate on the Ampatuan. I hope the SC can consider appointing assisting judges in order to facilitate this case faster. There are 196 accused here and we are pleased to hear from the DoJ that they will be able to finish presenting evidence for the prosecution on December 31, 2012 as against the principal accused (Andal Ampatuan Sr. and Jr.) So, by December 0f 2012, the presentation of the prosecution for these two principal accused will be finished, and also for Zaldy Ampatuan who has not yet been arraigned. This is a challenge to the government and the Judiciary. This is a major factor that will restore the people's confidence in our justice system if the Ampatuan case can be fast-tracked. In this regard, we call on Executive Secretary Ochoa to process - so the President can appoint immediately - 241 nominees for prosecutors which are pending to the Office of the President. I understand that 41 have been appointed out of this number of pending appointment for prosecutors.

On prison system, we ha have the most expensive prison system probably in this part of the world. Our Muntinlupa prison system stands on a property that is worth $1 billion. What we indicate is that there is every cent in implementing a regional prison system not only to decongest, but also by purposes of freeing a very important asset of the government, 2) rehabilitation of prisoners can be better served when their relatives can visit them, and certainly people in Visayas and Mindanao have difficulty going to Muntinlupa to visit their prison relatives. There is a renewed call for the regionalization of prison system. For example, we have a prison system in Leyte sitting on 800 hectares of government property. We can expand the Leyte prison system so that it can become a regional prison system for the Visayas. Also, in Mindanao, we have several detention centers there that can be expanded so prisoners can be incarcerated in Mindanao detention center. Our inmate population is 36,295 as of 2011. The capacity of our existing prison system is 17,719 prisons. Puno na an gating mga kulungan kaya kailangan nating magkaroon ng regional prison system in order to free our valuable assets and number 2, it serve our prison system well for there can be better rehabilitation of our prisoners.

We can utilize the asset better. Yes, we should sell it (Muntinlupa prison system property). The Privatization Management Office can do this.

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