By Joel R. San Juan, March 26 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Daily Inquirer

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra has vowed to look into reports that utilities around New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) premises have been cut off allegedly to give way for the privatization of the country’s penitentiary in Muntinlupa.

Guevarra issued the statement after around 600 residents of the NBP led by the Kalipunan ng Mamamayan na Pinagkaisa sa NBP Inc. held a protest gathering and sought for a dialogue with city officials to express their opposition to the implementation of the so-called NBP Master Development Plan by the Bureau of Corrections which aims to privatize the 366.7 hectare land for mixed-used projects.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon has reportedly issued a 15-day “notice to vacate” to residents to give way for the project. The NBP administration has reportedly cut water and electricity services in some of the areas at the NBP.

Likewise, construction materials have also been prohibited to enter the compound, and that construction material stores in the area have been ordered closed.

Guevarra, however, stated that there is still no final decision on the transfer of NBP.

Residents are appealing to the government to give them the land that they have been occupying through an affordable housing project.

“No final decision yet on transfer of NBP [to a] possible new location. There are at least three options under consideration. Will check on reported cutting off of utilities,” Guevarra said.

The BuCor, which is under the DOJ, has been planning to transfer the prison facility to Laur, Nueva Ecija, as part of the modernization plan, including the regionalization of BuCor prison facilities.

The BuCor Modernization Act aims to institutionalize restorative and reformative justice to enable inmates to be accepted back in society.