DOJ chief eyes new jail facility in north Luzon

MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II over the weekend bared plans to improve other regional penitentiaries and to construct a new jail facility in northern Luzon.

Aguirre said the new facility would be built either in Pangasinan, Ilocos or Nueva Ecija.

“We will establish one in the north. Wala pa tayo diyan (We don’t have one there yet),” he said.

Congress, he said, has already inserted a PHP2.2-billion budget for the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the construction of the new buildings starting 2018.

“It will undergo the usual bidding,” he said about the construction of more buildings to house prisoners.

Aguirre made the announcement after the government has scrapped its project to build a PHP50-billion super prison facility in Laur, Nueva Ecija due to high cost and inconvenience it will cause on visitors who live in far-flung areas.

The said project was initiated by Aguirre’s predecessor, now Sen. Leila de Lima.

Aguirre said the project was shelved “because of the inconveniences that would be experienced by the relatives of the detainees who will visit them all the way from Visayas and Mindanao.”

The super prison facility, which is supposed to be a public-private partnership (PPP) project, is intended to accommodate around 26,000 prisoners including those from the already congested New Bilibid Prison (NPB) in Muntinlupa City and the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

Since the project already has three bidders, Aguirre said the government would have to pay the penalties for scrapping the project.

Instead of pushing through with the project, he said the government would improve its existing regional penitentiaries with the construction of more jail facilities.

Apart from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and CIW Correctional Institute for Women (CIW), the government has penal colonies in Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Leyte, Zamboanga City, and Davao all under the Bureau of Corrections.