Press Release
January 16, 2006

Expresses alarm over laxity in securing jails as evidenced by jailbreaks

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, says that with the jailbreak incident in the Batangas provincial jail this weekend, the urgent need to implement reforms in the country's jail system, particularly in the security aspect becomes even more pronounced.

"My committee has conducted investigations and inquiries on the spate of jailbreaks, attempts or otherwise, that seems to be happening time and again in an alarmingly frequent manner. It has become apparent that there is laxity and negligence among the jail guards in securing the inmates," says Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party.

Last year, Villar's committee investigated the jailbreak at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City and the jailbreak attempt at the Camp Bagong Diwa. The committee also looked into the alleged corruption in Manila City Jail and the riot in Malabon City Jail.

Villar adds, "The jailbreak incidents that took place claimed the lives of the escapees and policemen. These tragic incidents could have been avoided had jails been properly managed and secured. There are really serious lapses in security measures in prison facilities."

Villar earlier filed Senate Bill No. 682 that seeks to increase the penalty for violation of infidelity in the custody of prisoners both with respect to connivance with or consent to evasion through the negligence of officers charged with the duty prisoners' custody particularly in cases where the escape was made for money or other consideration. The penalty will be increased from prision correcional to prision mayor.

"Besides utter negligence of the officers on duty when the jailbreak occurs, we also cannot rule out the possibility of connivance between jailguards and the inmates. For instance, in the Batangas jail incident, how did the New People's Army (NPA) manage to enter the jail freely? We should slap stricter penalties or punishment to erring officers," cites Villar.

Villar also filed Senate Bill 680 that seeks to institute prison reforms and impose penalty for violations. Among the prohibitions that Villar noted on his bill are: on giving special or privileged treatment to some prisoners; proliferation of drugs or other vices within the prison; failure by the officer to account for a prisoner or to make an inventory; among other reforms.

Villar cites on his bill that there seems to be 'glaxity in our correctional system' and he is recommending for a 'periodic and systematic inventory' of all prisoners.

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