Press Release
September 9, 2020

Bong Go manifests support for measures transferring jurisdiction of local jails to the BJMP

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has expressed his support for Senate Bills 1207, 1100, and 1332 which seek to transfer jurisdiction over all sub-provincial and provincial jails to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

"I fully support the initiative to transfer jurisdiction over all sub-provincial and provincial jails to the BJMP," Go said in a Senate hearing conducted by the Committee on Public Order chaired by Senator Ronald dela Rosa.

"Through this initiative, management of our correctional facilities will be more efficient and the welfare of our prisoners will be better protected," he added.

According to Go, "a unified standard of management for our correctional facilities will go a long way towards ensuring proper management."

"Under our current laws, local jails are currently under the control of two different authorities: city, municipal, and district jails are under the BJMP, while provincial and sub-provincial jails are supervised by the provincial government," noted Go.

"This initiative before us will put all our jails under the management of the BJMP. This will make it easier to establish and implement an integrated approach to jail management," he added.

Go cited government data which reveals that, as of November 2019, there are 61 provincial jails in the country with a total jail population of around 33,000. For the successful implementation of the initiative, BJMP would need to hire and train around 14,500 additional personnel, Go mentioned.

"[L]et this also be a challenge to the BJMP. This will only succeed if the BJMP is up to the task," Go said.

"With your additional mandate, we, in the Legislative, hope that you will do what is necessary to ensure that the goals of this initiative will be attained," he added.

The bills, authored by senators Ronald dela Rosa, Ramon Revilla, and Juan Miguel Zubiri, aim to achieve a uniform and standard set of policies and guidelines in the administration of local jails through the said transfer of control and supervision.

Dela Rosa, in previous interviews, said that this will ensure sufficient protection of detainees and promote their welfare. He also mentioned that it will improve the existing penal system in the country.

"Our proposed measure aims to implement a uniform, undeviating standard in the implementation of existing policies and guidelines with regard to the administration of our detention facilities," dela Rosa explained.

"This way, we could ensure a high probability of success in the reformation of our Persons Deprived of Liberty," added dela Rosa.

Government agencies have also expressed support to the initiative. Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that "[i]t's just logical that all provincial jails in the country be integrated under BJMP as this will prompt a more standard implementation of policies for our jails."

"Nararapat lamang na magkaroon ng matibay at pantay-pantay na pamamahala at pangangalaga ang ating mga kababayan sa ating mga bilangguan," Año added.

The Commission on Human Rights has also strongly supported the initiative. CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the passage of this bill would "lead to better implementation of existing standards, policies, and guidelines in the administration of local jails with regards to the safety of inmates, persons in custody awaiting investigation, and ensuring that detention facilities meet at least the minimum standard of treatment of prisoners."

In the past, Go has enjoined the Department of Justice to do their sworn duties in fixing the country's correctional facilities and ensuring fair treatment of inmates.

Go stressed all prisoners must be treated fairly in jail in accordance with the law, and that the patronage culture in correctional facilities must be eliminated.

"To the DOJ, do your sworn duties. I am sure you are very competent. Let us fix our correctional facilities," Go said.

"All prisoners, mayaman o mahirap, must be treated fairly and equally. Pare-parehas lang dapat. Walang palakasan sa bilangguan," Go added.

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