Statement of Sen. Pangilinan on Crowded Jails

July 31, 2016

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Isa sa mga pinaka-napabayaang bahagi ng Philippine criminal justice system ay ang mga kulungan.

Jails, run by local law enforcement or local government agencies, are meant to hold inmates awaiting trial usually for short-term stay. Prisons, operated by the national government, are for those convicted of serious crimes and normally for long-term incarceration.

The news item on jails gave Quezon City Jail as an example. Built 60 years ago to house 800, it now has almost five times its original capacity at 3,800 inmates.

Sobrang dami noon. Sobrang sikip. Hindi makatao. Kahit ang mga hayop, nangangailangan ng tinatawag na “space boundaries.” Sa pagtatanim ng mga halaman, ganun din. Kailangan may puwang sa pagitan nila, para makahinga at lumago.

Eto ang mga pangunahing pangangailangan at karapatan ng tao: pagkain, tubig, tirahan, damit, exercise, tulog, hangin.
I mention air because from the pictures, I can imagine how hard it is to breathe there, how hot, and how prone to getting sick.

As the Duterte administration’s anti-crime campaign goes into full gear, with hundreds of drug users and pushers surrendering, our jails and prisons will become increasingly crowded, increasingly uninhabitable, increasingly unbearable.

This deplorable situation in jails and prisons is one of the reasons why high-profile suspects of high crimes evade jail or prison time — at all costs, including the cost to justice. Improving the conditions in jails and prisons would serve justice. We would be able to see plunderers behind bars, not in hospitals or rest houses or special cells built for them, exacerbating the injustice of the system reserving jails and prisons only for the poor and the powerless.

As Congress awaits the budget proposal for 2017, I urge the agencies directly in control of jails and prisons to consider their wards’ needs. We will support budget increases toward these and we will monitor their use after.

Dahil Linggo naman, hayaan nyo na akong mag quote mula sa bible. Matthew 25:36: “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” That was Jesus.

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