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DOJ eyeing to build ‘island prisons’

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star
DOJ eyeing to build âisland prisonsâ
This photo shows the Department of Justice office in Faura, Manila.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is eyeing to build “island prisons” after Senate Bill (SB) 1055 and House of Representatives Bill (HB) 10355 lapsed into law on July 23.

“We will build facilities in Sablayan, Mindoro Island,” Remulla told reporters in a Viber message when asked about the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s plan after the bills seeking to create island prisons became law.

Remulla said the island prison in Sablayan, Mindoro Island would be constructed within the same parcel of land of around 8,000 hectares where the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (SPPF) is located.

Asked if they are also eyeing to create more island prisons in other areas in the country, Remulla said they have land areas available in Leyte and Zamboanga “which are possible future sites” as well.

Under the law, the government is mandated to set up “secure, clean and adequately equipped and sanitary” penitentiaries in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao for prisoners convicted of heinous crimes and sentenced to life.

Heinous crimes in the Philippines include treason, parricide, murder, rape, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson and plunder.

The law also mandates the DOJ to determine the location of the facilities that can be constructed “within a military establishment or in an island.”

Before it lapsed into law, the Senate had approved on third and final reading SB 1055, with 21 affirmative votes and zero negative votes.

The bill, filed by former senate president Vicente Sotto III, aimed to establish three maximum penal institutions for prisoners convicted of heinous crimes in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

A similar measure, HB 10355, was also approved by the lower house with 222 affirmative votes in one of the sessions in December last year.

The bill was introduced in October last year in a bid to decongest and segregate high-level prisoners from other convicts, and to prevent them from smuggling counterfeit items into their facilities.

It also mandated the facility to monitor prisoners for 24 hours using the latest detention and surveillance technology.

Despite being isolated, prisoners will still be allowed to speak with their relatives and lawyers if they get detained in the Alcatraz-like facility.

“Alcatraz” was derived from the Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, off the coast of California. It is a former maximum security prison where high-profile convicts such as Al Capone were detained.

The DOJ has existing prison facilities such as the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro, Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte and San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City.

Other prison facilities in the country include the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan and the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Braulio E. Dujali, Davao del Norte.

DOJ

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