Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Officer-In-Charge Director General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. vowed to reform the country’s correctional system amid reports of corruption, following the confiscation of thousands of illegally-obtained contraband within the New Bilibid Prison last week.
In an interview with DZMM Teleradyo, the BuCor OIC said he plans to initiate a reformation in the country’s correctional system after smuggled items were found within inmates’ cells.
The official said BuCor is set to initiate an investigation.
“Our commanders have also been given orders to search the prisons [for smuggled items]. We have a one-strike policy. A new case will surely be filed against the inmate who will be found guilty of possessing the said items,” Catapang said, adding that “this will prolong their sentences causing a lifetime of imprisonment. It’s contradictory to our program which aims to release inmates who have done their time to decongest our prisons.”
The BuCor managed to confiscate 7,505 cans of beer, 1,340 deadly weapons, arms, and 1,142 communication devices such as laptops, pocket wifi, and cellphones within the New Bilibid Prison.
The BuCor said that the numbers are from a consolidated report and with the developing investigation, they managed to find more cases of smuggled items within correctional facilities all over the country.
Illegal drugs were also found in the possession of the persons deprived of liberty in the Muntinlupa Correctional.
Catapang said that they already identified the vehicle that was used to smuggle the items inside the prison but are unable to disclose more information as the investigation is still ongoing.
He also revealed in the interview that while Bilibid stands with the capacity to guard 6,000 persons deprived of liberty, the number has skyrocketed to 30,000 causing the system to hit “rock bottom.”
“We lack people, that’s why we don’t have the capacity to reshuffle the staff. We should add more people,” Catapang said, also proposing to solve the crisis by transferring inmates to less crowded facilities.
A jail guard told reporters that cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs were prevented from slipping past security. However, insider interventions have occasionally occurred with other jail employees smuggling in the said paraphernalia.
To slip past security, Bilibid smugglers would occasionally hide illegal drugs, particularly shabu, into cushions and pillows. However, other inmates would choose to tell on their fellow PDLs to appease police officers and jail authorities.
A former inmate also identified hierarchies within the prisons where they would pay “taxes” to be able to use the smuggled goods – whether they may be communication devices or to indulge in vices such as drinking, smoking, or engaging in illegal drugs.