Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go is urging the Department of Justice (DoJ) to prioritize the release of inmates on account of age, poor health condition and actual service in prison taking into consideration the existing laws.
During Monday’s Senate hearing on the Justice department’s proposed 2020 budget, the senator read a letter he wrote addressed to DoJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra on behalf of the inmates.
Go in his letter asked the DoJ to consider the early release of sick and aging inmates to help them out of their miserable conditions inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), noting that he saw the situation of the inmates when he visited NBP in Muntinlupa City to verify reports that prison officials are involved in selling Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) and hospital passes to persons deprived of liberty (PDL).
To recall, the Senate has been conducting an inquiry on the allegations that inmates who can afford to bribe officials are given priority in the computation of GCTA, even if such inmates are not qualified or have committed violations while inside the prison.
At the budget hearing on Monday, the senator supported the proposed budget of the DOJ so that the agency can overhaul NBP.
“I fully commit my support to the measures and initiatives of Secretary Guevarra towards a corruption-free DoJ,” said Go.
“The Department of Justice plays several crucial roles in the bureaucracy. Aside from prosecuting offenders, it also administers and manages our correctional facilities. To serve its purpose, it has to be firm, steadfast, and efficient,” he added.
The 2020 budget of DOJ and its attached agencies amounts to P21.7 billion, higher by 0.68 percent than their P21.6 billion budget in 2019.
The budget of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which is part of the DOJ’s budget, includes P478.6 million for the acquisition of high-tech equipment in the fight against criminality and illegal drugs inside the National Bilibid Prison.
Go expressed his support to the efforts to reform BuCor and enhance its capabilities amid recent controversies in the bureau.
“As I have stated multiple times before, corruption and criminality have no place in this administration. I join the calls of my fellow Senators to overhaul and revamp the Bureau of Corrections. And we will start by making good our commitment to the DOJ to provide (it) with enough funds to acquire high-tech equipment for the BuCor and to construct a separate penal facility for convicts involved in heinous crimes,” said Go.