Press Release
October 28, 2019

Dispatch from Crame No. 635:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the inhumane conditions inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP)


The attached message, as emailed to my office, from the wife of a Person Deprived of Liberty (PDL) inside the NBP's Maximum Security Compound bewailing the treatment of PDLs in the ongoing clearing operations in said facility, compels me once again to make this plea.

To allow PDLs to live in decrepit and abusive prison conditions is a death sentence. Wala nga tayong parusang kamatayan pero sa hindi makataong pagtrato sa mga preso sa loob ng mga kulungan, para na rin silang sinentensyahang mamatay.

Implementing reforms in our prison system is not about treating inmates as less than human. There is nothing restorative and rehabilitative about inmates dying because they were denied their basic needs such as clean water.

The recently reported death of 8 prisoners inside the NBP due to dehydration and lack of medical attention reeks strongly of the inhumanity that exists within the country's penitentiaries under this Administration.

Kailangan nating maunawaan na hindi lahat ng preso ay halang ang bituka at sagad-sagaran ang kasamaan katulad ng mga drug lords. Marami sa kanila handang magbago at maging kapaki-pakinabang na bahagi ng lipunan. Meron rin sa kanila na walang mga kasalanan.

The reports I'm getting indicate that more PDLs continue to experience hardships and suffer deteriorating health amidst crowded conditions in the aftermath of the clearing operations.

The present BuCor Director-General, who is facing charges for the death of several detainees when he was still a BJMP official, should be held accountable for all these unfortunate consequences of the demolitions that were carried out without any contingencies for the provision of decent living conditions for the affected PDLs. Apparently, he is more tailored as an SS Waffen warden in Auschwitz, rather than any prison in the 21st century, even if this may be found in the Philippines. Prisoners are still human beings, and no human being deserves being under the mercy of a character out of 'Schindler's List'.

I urge my fellow lawmakers to prioritize measures that seek to establish reforms and restorative justice within our entire prison system. Appointment of new BuCor officials or reshuffling of prison personnel are just band-aid solutions to the worsening age-old problems in our penitentiaries.

We need reforms that will, first and foremost, restore the dignity of our PDLs and prepare them for their integration into their communities. Kailangan pagbalik nila sa kanilang mga komunidad, handa silang maging bahagi nito at magsimula muli. Mahalagang layunin din dapat ng pagreporma ang ihanda din ang komunidad na tanggaping muli ang mga PDL at bigyan sila ng pagkakataong magbagong buhay.

"It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but by its lowest ones." (Nelson Mandela)

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 635, here:

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