Lacson wants PHP10-M fine for visitors who will try to bring firearms inside New Bilibid Prison

MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson has filed a bill seeking to finally stop the disturbing scenario of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison continuing to enjoy perks ranging from cash to drugs to gadgets and firearms and even fighting cocks and exotic pets.

Lacson’s Senate Bill No. 46 proposes stiffer penalties, including imprisonment of 20 to 40 years and a fine of PHP10 million, for visitors who try to bring in firearms or ammunition to an inmate.

According to Lacson’s proposal, attempts to bring in other contraband may mean an imprisonment of six to 12 years and a fine of PHP1 million and those who try to assist in smuggling firearms or ammunition may face imprisonment of 12 to 20 years and a fine of PHP5 million.

Lacson lamented that the continued enjoyment by inmates of such perks has given Philippine corrections authorities’ image a black eye.

Under his proposed law, the prison guards and officials who would allow such items into the penitentiary would also be facing stiffer penalties.

“A stiff penalty is required in this circumstance in order to instill fear and be an effective deterrence to those contemplating of doing this crime in the future. More importantly, the said penalty applies as well to government officials or employees who cooperate or co-opt with the inmate or other private persons involved therein,” he said.

Penalties in the bill cover private individuals and prison officials who allow the bringing in of items such as firearms, ammunition, alcoholic drinks, money, electronics and communication devices –- including signal jammers –- to inmates.

The bill requires people visiting detainees in any prison facility to accomplish a registration form and present valid IDs such as a passport, driver’s license or voter’s ID. They must also declare what items they are bringing to the inmate. Failure to comply with registration may mean imprisonment of one to five days, or a fine of PHP1,000.

Inmates who attempt to make, possess or obtain a firearm or ammunition may face imprisonment from 20 to 40 years, and a fine of PHP10 million. This penalty is separate from the sentence the inmates are already serving.

If the offender is a public official or employee, he or she faces perpetual disqualification from holding public office and the forfeiture of all retirement benefits and leave credits. Jelly Musico/ PNA/