RIZAL 4th District Representative Fidel Nograles on Friday lauded a project that would establish libraries in jails as part of the rehabilitation of persons deprived of liberty (PDL).
“I laud the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for this project. Sa tulong ng library project na ito ay mabibigyan ng oportunidad ang ating mga PDL na matuto at maging mas produktibong myembro ng lipunan,” Nograles, a stalwart of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), said.
The BJMP, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, launched the project, dubbed “Read Your Way Out: Advancing Prison Reform through Libraries for Lifelong Learning in Places of Detention.”
So far, 13 jails across the country will be provided with books and the necessary basic equipment to build their respective libraries. The libraries are scheduled to be launched this month.
The libraries will contain legal resources (20 percent), vocational resources (30 percent), fiction and nonfiction (40 percent), and children’s books for family visitors (10 percent).
The lawmaker emphasized the importance of providing opportunities for education to PDLs.
“Ang kulungan ay hindi lang para sa parusa. Ang isa pang mas mahalagang layunin ay ang rehabilitasyon ng mga PDL,” he said.
The Harvard-trained lawyer also said that the UN’s Nelson Mandela Rules require the establishment of a library for prisoners.
Nograles likewise said that the launching of the project also puts the spotlight on the plight of the country’s jails and the lack of facilities.
“Dahil papalapit na rin ang budget season, maganda rin ang timing para matanong natin kung natutupad ba ng pamahalaan ang responsibilidad nito sa PDL rehabilitation, at kung magkano ba ang kakailanganin para maging mas maayos ang kondisyon ng ating mga PDL,” Nograles, who is also a legal aid advocate, said.
The Philippines has a long-standing problem with jail congestion.
According to a study commissioned by the Philippines’ Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC), as of the end of 2021, 70% of BJMP facilities have been overcrowded, with an average congestion rate of 386%, while the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) facilities have a congestion rate of 310%.