With two Blue Ribbon investigations about the deep-seated corruption in the National Bilibid Prisons in less than three years, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao lamented that not a single law has been enacted by Congress to fix the country’s broken prison system.
Pacquiao said lamented that the investigation on the alleged anomalies involving the application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) for convicted criminals had been diverted into the allegations of drug recycling by so-called “ninja cops” without any real solution to the original problem which is the persistent corruption in the country’s prison facilities.
Pacquiao said that illegal activities– from simple smuggling of cigarettes and mobile phones to heinous crimes like drug trafficking and gun-for-hire activities– have proliferated inside what is supposed to be the most secure of government facilities because of a defective system and an unscrupulous bureaucracy.
Pacquiao said that the country’s penal facilities were built not just reform people who have committed crimes but also to exact justice for the people who became their victims. The prison system was created not to make life easy for those who committed crimes but to make them realize that “crime does not pay.”
“How can these criminals feel any remorse for the wrong things that they have done if we don’t make them pay for their crimes? How can there be justice if these criminals who committed the most heinous of crimes are still free to do what they have been doing when they were outside of the prison system? Napakasakit po yan para sa mga biktima,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao insisted that justice must be swift for those who committed the most abominable crimes while a chance to reform should be given to those who can prove that they can still become a productive member of the society even if they are behind bars.
Pacquiao has authored Senate Bill 189 which seeks to repeal Republic Act 9346, otherwise known as the anti-death penalty law and amend provisions of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 to reimpose death penalty for illegal drug importers, traffickers and their “protectors and coddlers”.
At the same time, Pacquiao said that he would also file a bill which seeks to strengthen the reformatory mechanism that is being used in the country’s penal facilities to allow non-death convicts to become productive members of the society.
He said that he is also pushing for the full transfer of the NBP in Muntinlupa and it should be relocated to a more a more “high-tech” but secluded place to discourage the smuggling of contraband inside the prison facility.
“Our prison facility should have the minimum requirement provided under international standards so that our prisoners can still be treated humanely without giving them too much comfort to remind them that they are in fact in prison and not in some posh 5-star hotel. It’s about time that we build a prison facility that is at par with international standards,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao said that after the GCTA investigation, he is hoping that reforms are immediately undertaken to stop corruption in the prison system and criminals are punished exactly as provided by the justice system without any shortcut.
Congress on the hand must now buckle down to work and craft the necessary legislation to solve the problems besetting the country’s justice system.
“I’ve have enough of all these investigations about the anomalies in our prison facilities. Nakakasawa na kasi paulit-ulit na nangyayari. What we should do now is correct the problem and fix this broken system in our prison,” Pacquiao said. (senate.gov.ph)