Press Release
September 8, 2020


Senator Ronald 'Bato' Dela Rosa earned support from the governors of various provinces in the country on the proposed transfer of control and supervision of the provincial and sub-provincial jails to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Dela Rosa, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, conducted a public hearing on Tuesday, to discuss several bills seeking to amend Republic Act No. 6975, otherwise known as the 'Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Act of 1990' by transferring the control and supervision of provincial jails to the BJMP.

During the hearing, Dela Rosa was assured of a unanimous backing from the provincial chief executives who were one in saying that such measure was long overdue. They all agreed that the BJMP can better manage the jails in the country since they are well equipped and have expertise on the task at hand.

"Personally, I am very very supportive of this bill. Ang tanong ko nga lang dito, bakit ngayon lang ito? Dapat noon pa ito," Agusan del Sur Governor Santiago Cane Jr. said.

"Sa lahat po ng authors ng bill na ito, I have waited for this bill for the longest time. Kasi nga po it is not easy to manage a provincial jail na siksikan yung facilities namin dito. Nung dumating yung Covid19, ang pinakauna kong concern yung provincial jail namin kasi nga it has already more than doubled its capacity, so yung social distancing talagang di mo maiwasan," Cane added.

In its establishment under Republic Act No. 6975, the BJMP was vested jurisdiction over city and municipal jails. The provincial jail was retained under the control and supervision of the provincial government. This retention was also expressed in the provisions of Republic Act No. 7610 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

Zamboanga del Sur Governor Victor Yu also expressed his gratitude to the authors of the bill saying that he has also been longing to see the transfer of their jails to the BJMP.

"Actually I already requested last year pa na ma-manage ng BJMP yung provincial jail namin because my observation, Mr Chairman, mas maganda yung management ng BJMP kasi very professional unlike here in our province na yung warden hindi ganoon yung focus nila. We cannot say that management is bad, but in enforcing the law sa mga jail, especially sa pag-guard, medyo mas better yung sa BJMP...Gaya ng sinabi ko, full support ako dito," Governor Yu said.

During his opening statement, Dela Rosa said that the management of the provincial jails may not always be a priority of the LGUs as there are more pressing concerns for their constituents, leaving the jails in "a dismal state: overcrowded, poorly sanitized; some do not meet international standards -- bordering on inhumane conditions."

"This state of fragmented jail services results in the difficulty of establishing a national standard in the operational management of all local jails in the country to the detriment of the inmates and PDLs. Provinces usually do not prioritize jail services as they have many basic services like health and education to prioritize, and as these services are understandably more appealing and responsive to the social needs of their constituents," Dela Rosa noted.

Dela Rosa, who also served as Bureau of Corrections chief, noted the lack of professional training and equipment in some provincial jails which may lead to jailbreak.

"Isa pang isyu sa mga provincial jails ay ang kakulangan sa training at equipment ng mga jail guard nito. Noong August 2016, may nakakulong na walong miyembro ng teroristang Maute group ang nakatakas sa Lanao del Sur Provincial Jail. Kung sapat lang sana ang training at equipment ng mga jail guard, maaring napigilan ang pagtakas ng mga teroristang ito," Dela Rosa said.

Surigao del Sur Governor Ike Pimentel also expressed full support for the measure and echoed Senator Dela Rosa's observation, saying that the proposed bill will unburden their LGU as they are not fully equipped for the task, citing as examples the lack of vehicles as well as incidences of miscoordination during transfer of PDLs.

"Considering the problem posed by a divided jail management, the authors of the bills under consideration today deem it proper for the BJMP, whose main mandate is to manage local jails, to step in and take charge of the operations and management of provincial jails. This will ensure an integrated approach to jail management for the efficient delivery of service and the well-being of inmates and persons deprived of liberty (PDLs)," Dela Rosa further explained.

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