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New prison for money or convict welfare?

MANILA (Agencies) : The Commission on Prison Pastoral Care has called a government plan to spend 50 billion pesos ($9 billion) on a prison to replace the old National Bilibid Prisons unnecessary and aimed more at the rake off from land development than prisoner welfare.

CBCP news reported the commission as saying that there are other much more practical solutions to decongest the national penitentiary than building a new one.

The executive secretary, Rodolfo Diamante, said, “The project is not in the best interest of the prison community members.”

Diamante said, “The Commission on Prison Pastoral Care has long opposed the transfer on the ground that it is not the solution to the problem of the Bureau of Corrections.”

He believes that the improvement of the existing facilities in seven other places that inmates from National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa can be transferred to would address the problem adequately.

“Moreover, there is the law on Good Conduct Time Allowance that if applied would dramatically decongest the jails,” Diamante pointed out.

The good conduct code was approved by the president, Noynoy Aquino, in May 2013 to address the problem of congestion in prisons and can cut the prison term of an inmate considerably.

 “So there’s really no need to spend 50 billion pesos on what is believed to be a modern Alcatraz,” Diamante said.

The new prison facility is scheduled to rise over the next three years in Nueva Ecija to house inmates from the old National Bilibid Prisons.

The supposed state-of-the-art facility will be built on a 500-hectare complex within Fort Magsaysay, the country’s largest military reservation.

Diamante, however, claimed there seems to be a deeper reason behind the project and that is to give way to commercial development in the area of the old prison.