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CL execs back NBP transfer to N. Ecija

February 2, 2015

Council approves resolution endorsing project to Neda

National Bureau of Corrections

National Bureau of Corrections

At Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s behest, the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Central Luzon endorsed on Friday the transfer of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to a 500­hectare area within the Philippine Army’s Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija province.

A resolution approved at an RDC meeting in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga, allows the NBP project to be raised before the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) board chaired by President Aquino for final evaluation before a public- private partnership could begin construction of a new national penitentiary.

“I am extremely happy,” De Lima said about the support the project received from the RDC. The council backed the NBP relocation after Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali endorsed a resolution indicating the willingness of several sectors in the province to host the prison.

“We are willing to host the jail in General Tinio town,” he told the council.

Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., chair of the RDC sectoral committee on infrastructure development, placed the NBP matter on the agenda. The Department of Justice (DOJ) submitted documents on the P50.18­billion project which would take three years to complete.

“This is the real long­term solution to the ills besetting the New Bilibid Prison,” De Lima told the RDC.

The justice secretary recently led National Bureau of Investigation agents in several raids conducted on the NBP in Muntinlupa City that uncovered the “prison­based criminal activities” and luxurious lifestyles of high­profile drug convicts and other wealthy inmates.

Umali said his public consultations showed that the pros outweighed the cons and the NBP transfer to his province would

boost the local economy. The new prison can house 26,000 inmates and will have 5,000 jail

guards.

“But the [DOJ] should carry the lessons learned at the NBP and the [Department of Public Works and Highways] should build the eastern alignment [a road from San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan to Nueva Ecija],” Umali added.

The Nueva Ecija provincial government, however, set several conditions for hosting the new NBP, among them the segregation of high­risk inmates, the inclusion of local officials in the planning and the participation of the provincial police in security matters.

De Lima accepted the conditions, saying these were needed for the “modern, state­of­the­art facility.” She said the NBP’s transfer out of Muntinlupa City was necessary because the congestion rate was already at 160 percent.

“We are in a hurry. The construction will be done in three years. The contractor will maintain the facility for 20 years. The Bureau of Corrections will focus on its custodial mandate and the rehabilitation of inmates,” she added.

The bidding for the new prison, according to her, will start this year.

Umali, meanwhile, recommended the issuance of a presidential proclamation separating the new NBP site from the rest of Fort Magsaysay to protect the area from informal settlers.–With a report from Carmela Reyes­Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon

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