Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian today said the poor state of the country’s penal system is the main reason why high-profile and high-risk detainees like the big names implicated in the pork barrel scam cannot be accommodated in the detention facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management or BJMP.
Gatchalian made the remark amid renewed calls from some sectors to detain those charged in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam in regular jails instead of the detention facility at the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center inside Camp Crame.
“The Sandiganbayan has no choice but to order the detention of the personalities facing plunder charges in the PNP-Custodial Center due to the over-congestion of BJMP jails, including the Quezon City Jail which is nearest to the anti-graft court,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian pointed out that the main reason for jail congestion is the presence of overstaying prisoners or those who are facing bailable crimes but since they could not post bail due to poverty, they are forced to stay in detention while enjoying the free board and lodging being provided by BJMP.
As of January 2013, BJMP records showed a total of 797 prisoners overstaying, 320 of which are from the National Capital Region (NCR).
“Add to this is the seeming laxity of security in BJMP jails which is the reason why deadly weapons find their way to the cells of prisoners before a jail riot takes place,” Gatchalian said.
Several senators had earlier signed a resolution calling for their detained colleagues to remain in Camp Crame, the national police headquarters in Quezon City, instead of being transferred to a regular jail under the control of BJMP.
Senators Vicente Sotto III and Gregorio Honasan II filed a resolution on Monday expressing the sense of the Senate to keep Juan Senators Ponce Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame so that they would have the space to continue their duties as elected lawmakers.
The resolution said the three detained senators were presumed innocent until proven guilty, as provided for in the Bill of Rights. It also cited the constitutional provision that the Senate or House of Representatives alone may decide how its members may be disciplined, suspended or expelled. (Tim Alcantara)