Transfer of heinous crime convicts to regions backed

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    SENATE President Vicente Sotto III yesterday said Malacanang has backed his proposal to transfer heinous crimes convicts to regional penitentiaries to decongest the jampacked New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

    Pending the Senate’s final action on his proposed measure, Sotto said Malacañang suggested that penitentiaries be put up instead in the country’s three major islands – one each in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

    Under the Palace suggestion, the regional penitentiary in Luzon will be put up in Laur, Nueva Ecija where the Fort Magsaysay military reservation is situated; the Visayas facility in Capiz; and the Mindanao facility in the lot where the Davao Penal Colony was built in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

    The Palace earlier announced its plan to transfer the NBP to Nueva Ecija and sell portions of the prime property in Muntinlupa City where the present national penitentiary is located.

    Funds from the sale will be used for the modernization of the country’s penal institutions.

    Sotto said another facility would be built for high-profile drug convicts.

    “There will be a separate one, probably in Region 4, iyong (the) penitentiary for high-level drug traffickers. Hiwalay sila dun sa (That will be separated from the) Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao (regional penitentiaries),” he said.

    Aside from decongesting the NBP, Sotto said his original proposal to have regional penitentiaries was aimed at bringing prisoners closer to their families and improve their chances of reformation.

    He added convicts lose their appetite to reform if they are not often visited by their loved ones.

    “How can your family visit you, let’s says if you are from Negros or Sultan Kudarat and you’re jailed at the NBP in Muntinlupa City. Your family really cannot visit you even once a year. That’s what’s happening,” he said.