JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” C. Remulla on Thursday said he is seeking a “digitization” of all Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) records to address corruption issues and help seek the immediate release of prisoners who have “overserved” their jail terms.
The DOJ (Department of Justice) chief issued the pronouncement as he and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Sec. Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos Jr. met top Philippine National Police (PNP) officers led by Lieutenant General Vicente D. Danao Jr. at Camp Crame to bolster further the DILG-PNP and DOJ cooperation in fighting criminality and seek more court convictions.
Sec. Remulla revealed that at present, the BuCor still has handwritten “Carpeta” or individual folders of the more than 30,000 prisoners serving their term at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City alone.
The same “Carpeta” system also remains a practice in all other BuCor facilities across the country. More than 100,000 convicted felons are now serving their term in different penal facilities nationwide, the DOJ chief said.
“Manual pa, hindi pa completely digitized. These Carpetas are physically delivered, say 200 carpetas or folders ng PDLs (Persons Deprived of Liberty), we have to wait for each manual carpeta bago ma-release ang prisoner,” he explained.
Sec. Remulla said this is the reason why he is pushing for the digitization of the records of all BuCor prisoners.
“We want to make everything visible online,” he said.
A former BuCor chief who demanded anonymity told the Journal Group that when he first set foot at the national penitentiary, he was shocked to discover that the Carpeta system still exists in the facility.
“It has been a regular source of corruption. Imagine a prisoner who doesn’t know if he has already served his jail term as he has lost count of his years in prison. He can only be released if his Carpeta is given to him. But sad to say, I found out that a poor prisoner’s Carpeta won’t be given to him without anything in consideration,” he said.
“Yung ibang preso, ilang taon na dapat nakalabas pero ang Carpeta nila ay nawawala o ‘di kaya ay natabunan na ng iba. Kasi yung mga mayayamang preso ang me kapabilidad na magbayad para makuha agad ang records nila,” he added.
Sec. Remulla said he wants to address the problem immediately. “Nothing should be lost in transmission here,” he said. Top BuCor officials were conspicuously absent during the Camp Crame press conference to explain the Carpeta issue.
The DOJ chief said that he has been informed that there is a 330% congestion rate in BuCor facilities.
At the maximum compound in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) alone, he said there are already some 17,000 inmates housed in the facility, which was built for 7,000 prisoners only.
Remulla said they still need sufficient manpower – specifically those from the Board of Parole, Probation, and Pardon – to process the papers of prisoners much faster.
“Ang problema sa Carpeta, isa-isang dinadala,” he said.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Director Allan S. Iral, for his part, called on local government units (LGUs) to donate (vacant) lots to them if possible so that they could build more jail facilities in these areas to address congestion in their facilities.
The official said they currently have a 387% congestion rate, which is already “lower” than the previous 612% rate.
Sec. Abalos agreed with the BJMP head’s suggestion but added that if some LGUs in the country are not willing to donate lots for the BJMP, why not lend lots to the BJMP in the long term, say for 30-40 years under the so-called usufruct agreement.
The two officials likewise said that thru the help of the DOJ, they are seeking the assistance of different courts nationwide in fast-tracking the resolution of criminal cases filed against BJMP inmates.