THERE seems to be no end to the discovery by authorities of various unusual and perhaps illegal activities going on within the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.
It was only two weeks back when gangs within the Bilibid voluntarily surrendered thousands of cans of beer that allegedly cost 1,000 pesos each inside, illegal drugs, weapons, computers and cellphones. Not to be outdone, prison authorities and elements from the Department of Justice (DOJ) then discovered an alleged tunnel or hole in the ground just adjacent to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director’s quarters which, as latest reports have it and claimed by DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla himself, was allegedly an attempt by suspended Bucor Director Gerald Bantag to find the fabled Yamashita treasure. But that is not all as just a couple of days ago, the authorities again discovered a virtual zoo inside the NBP that housed ten game fowls, fifteen horses and three pythons.
All of these events, if indeed accurate, only point to the fact that shady and criminal activities are going on and continue to happen within the confines of the NBP.
And most probably those that are actively involved in these criminal activities inside the premier prison, whether or not in cahoots or under the protection of prison authorities, are those convicts who are serving life sentences or lengthy prison terms for heinous crimes and are already deemed as hard core prisoners. Given the reality of their situation and the futile prospect of being granted parole in the future, these life termers would naturally gravitate to what they know best in order to survive inside the prison, and that is to commit crime.
It is therefore imperative for the government and at the soonest possible time to enact measures to contain and isolate these hard core convicts and separate them from the rest of the prison population in order to prevent them from co-opting other prisoners or prison authorities into joining their criminal activities.
The DOJ, taking its cue from the recommendation of the Senate Committee on Justice for the creation of a separate ‘state of the art penal facility for convicts of high level heinous crimes, have suggested the establishment of three high level prison sites, one each for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. That seems a good suggestion but what if we go further with the measure by suggesting that there will be one or two high technology prison facilities that will be established not on land but in the seas via islands under the territorial jurisdiction of the country.
If we would really want to contain and isolate these hard core convicts from the rest of the prison population and even from society itself to protect the citizenry from their depredations, then the logical thing to do would be to put these prisoners in an island a bit far away from the next land mass and with sufficient technology to guard them 24/7.
And to further isolate them from prison authorities, the DOJ can recommend the use of robots to provide food to the prisoners similar to the robots that are seen serving some Jolibee outlets. As already suggested in an earlier column, the convicts will also be deprived the opportunity of surreptitiously using cellphones to communicate with the outside world by the application of jamming devices that would blanket the entire island prison. Communications by prison authorities would be by two way radios and landline telephones.
There is a lot that can be done to once and for all put an end to the shenanigans being conducted within the NBP and the plan to contain and isolate the hard core convicts is one step in the right direction.
The Borgen Project, which is a non-profit organization that addresses poverty and hunger worldwide, came out with a report sometime in 2020 entitled “5 Facts About the Philippines’ Incarceration System.” In that report it was mentioned that the main problems of the prison system in the country are severe overcrowding, the travails of pre-trial detainees, the high death toll, the vigilante justice, and corruption. (https://borgenproject.org/philippines-incarceration-system/)
If we are to address some of these concerns regarding the country’s incarceration system then containing and isolating hard core convicts in off-shore high technology penal facilities should be deemed a priority by the DOJ in particular and the government in general.