MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Magandang umaga, Malacañang Press Corps. Welcome sa ating press briefing ngayong araw, December 1.
Next week, the Justice Sector Coordinating Council or JSCC, composed of the Supreme Court, Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government, will hold the National Jail Decongestion Summit. This summit aims to solve jail congestion nationwide through comprehensive analysis of the challenges and opportunities associated with decongestion efforts.
And to give us a background on the upcoming summit, we have with us today, Department of Justice Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano IV. Good morning, Assistant Secretary Clavano.
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Good morning, Daphne. Thank you for having me. Good morning to all our friends in media. Again, I’m from the Department of Justice but also a member of the technical working group on the communications and partnership building of JSCC.
Now, on December 6 and 7, as mentioned by Daphne, we will be holding a jail decongestion summit in Diamond Hotel where the representatives from the DILG, the DOJ and the Supreme Court will be present. Of course, we will also have experts, stakeholders and even those people who have had experienced in jail to come and brief us and give us a comprehensive analysis of the problem and possible solutions to quell or to prevent this from happening in the future.
Now, just to give a background: There was a survey done in December 31, 2021, and the latest count was that there were 199,079 persons deprived of liberty or PDLs as we call them. So that amounts to about 179 PDLs per 100,000 people in our population; 13,704 of these PDLs are female or that equals to 11% of the total BJMP jail population.
Significantly, 69.51% of the PDLs are undergoing preventive detention, which means there has not been a decision or conviction in their cases and only 30.49% have been convicted and sentenced. Iyon po iyong pagkakaiba ‘no, iyong sa BJMP, iyon po iyong pre-conviction, naka-detain po sila habang tuloy pa rin iyong kaso nila sa korte. Iyong mga nasa BuCor, Bureau of Corrections, which is under the DOJ, iyon po iyong na-sentence na po, mayroon na pong hatol sa kanila.
Another significant stat here is that 70% of BJMP detention facilities are overcrowded at an average congestion rate of 386%. The Quezon City male dormitory which is the highest in terms of the congestion rate is at 1,330%.
Another significant factor here as to why we are holding the summit is that the BJMP facilities for female PDLs are more overcrowded than facilities for male PDLs.
So iyong gagawin po natin sa jail decongestion summit, tatlong proposed activities and strategies ‘no: First is to reduce admissions, and I will talk more about the shortened activities to address that; second, increase releases by legal means; and third, to expand capacity of jail facilities.
So we will have short-term goals, as well as long-term goals which we hope to discuss and thoroughly analyze in the jail decongestion summit. First, iyong rules on custodial hearings and requiring bail. As you all know and probably have read about, the DOJ has released rules on the reduced bail amounts for indigents which will be now either half of the recommended bail which is listed ‘no by the DOJ, or 10,000 whichever is lower. This way, we can enforce the right to bail which is given or afforded to every citizen or every Filipino.
So marami po kasing … kagaya ng sinabi ko kanina, maraming nakakulong sa BJMP, at iyon po iyong mga hindi pa nadesisyunan ‘no, iyong mga criminal cases nila. And the reason why they are still there kahit bailable naman po iyong crimes nila ay hindi sila makakapagpiyansa or hindi sila makakapag-afford ng bail nila. Kaya ito po iyong isa sa mga short-term solutions na tinitingnan ho natin.
Pangalawa po, iyong threshold ng preliminary investigation. Mayroon ding rules ang DOJ na nilabas via Department Circular 20 kung saan tinaas na po natin ang threshold ng evidence required for the filing of cases. So dati po, probable cause lang po. So ang tanong sa prosecutor, basically is, is there probable cause to believe that the person has committed a certain crime. Ngayon po, mayroon na po tayong bagong threshold or bagong level ng evidence na kailangang i-meet bago i-file ang criminal case sa court. Ngayon, prima facie evidence supported by a reasonable certainty of conviction. So kailangan po mas mataas ngayon at mas malakas ang ebidensiya na ipiprisenta sa harap ng prosecutor para po ihain ang kaso sa korte.
And as I said a while ago, iyong ating mga women ‘no, women in conflict with the law or WICL, ito rin ay isang malaking isyu sa jail decongestion summit where we want to reduce admission again and increase releases. Bakit po? Mayroon po tayong maraming classifications of women in conflict with the law: Mayroon po tayong minors; mayroon po tayong mga sexually and physically abused which is in line with our anti-violence against women campaign which we are in the midst of ‘no; pregnant WICLs; nursing WICLs; women with disabilities; and, of course, elderly women. So we will be coming up, the Supreme Court, the DOJ and the DILG will be coordinating with regard to the new rules on WICLs and a manual for handling WICLs.
So iyon po ‘no, we hope that we are able to reach the mission of the jail decongestion summit with the help, of course, of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and crime), as well as GOJUST (Governance IN Justice) who would be funding the event, a two-day event, where we will have stakeholders, experts and several government agencies represented. The President will also be gracing the event, together with the Executive Secretary. The Speaker of the House, as well as the Senate President had all also confirmed their attendance. So this will be, again, held in Diamond Hotel, and we hope for the best outcome in the summit.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Sounds like good news. Any questions from the media? Allan Francisco, PTV 4.
ALLAN FRANCISCO/PTV4: Hi, ma’am. Hi, sir. Just to clarify: Is this the first time, sir, that we will be conducting this kind of event?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes, it’s the first of its kind. Well, I would consider this as a legacy building event kasi ito iyong pinakaunang pagkakataon na nagsama-sama iyong mga actors sa justice sector – Supreme Court, DOJ and DILG – in really addressing this very pressing issue. Only this administration has, I guess, ventured into even starting to solve this problem of ours.
ALLAN FRANCISCO/PTV4: Follow-up lang, sir. You mentioned that this event aims to solve the possible problems and solutions. Can you cite some examples, sir, na possible problems if hindi nasolusyunan itong decongestion?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Well, really, it’s a humanitarian problem. It’s a human rights problem as well which we are all very aware of. Mayroon po tayong tinatawag na Mandela Rules which provides for the minimum standards for treating person deprived of liberty.
Under the National Building Code, the requirement is about 4.8 square meters per PDL which is very far from what we’re seeing now in the jails. This is something that we believe is a very pressing issue because kahit nakakulong ng mga iyan, may karapatan pa rin – tao pa rin iyong mga nakakulong ‘no sa BJMP at saka sa BuCor. So, this is something that will show the world and to our citizens na we don’t take these things lightly. Kahit nakakulong po iyan, we still have to treat them with the dignity that they deserve.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Alvin Baltazar, PBS.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/PBS: Asec., good morning po. Asec, as part of the tradition na rin siguro every holiday season, may inaasahan ba tayong pardon for this Christmas season? Kung mayroon, ilan iyong ini-expect nating ipa-pardon ni Pangulo?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Well, every year po iyan ‘no at ang ginawa po ni Secretary on the President’s birthday and on Christmas, mayroon po tayong binibigay na listahan sa PPA (Parole and Probation Administration); and then eventually, aakyat po iyan sa Executive Secretary. I’m not particularly sure kung ano po iyong number na binigay ngayon. But last year, it was amount… close to one thousand. So, we’re expecting a similar amount this year.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Allan Francisco…
ALLAN FRANCISCO/PTV: Sir, hindi ko maalala kung nabanggit ninyo ba iyong most congested na jail at… yeah, iyong QC. May mga plano ba, sir, na magdagdag ng mga jail facilities ang government?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes, that will be part of the discussion during the summit ‘no. Titingnan natin kung kailangan pa magdagdag ng jails around Quezon City. But on the side of BuCor, we’ve already started our plans on regionalizing the jails – about 16 regional jails will be in the pipelines. Right now, there are about seven ‘no facilities. So that will be part, that’s one of the strategies pero iyong isa kasi is to reduce admissions and to increase releases. So together with additional facilities, the other strategies such as increasing releases and reducing admissions will probably help as well with the decongestion.
ALLAN FRANCISCO/PTV: Follow up lang, sir. The funds, sir, na gagamitin doon sa jail facilities, saan manggagaling, sir?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Ilalagay po natin, ipu-propose po natin iyan sa GAA – especially iyong sa BuCor, we already asked for additional budget to be able to setup these additional jail facilities. Of course, bukas po kami sa mga LGUs na magdu-donate din po ng facility, ng lupa para po makapagtayo din tayo ng regional jails sa mga lugar nila.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Jonel Maribojoc, UNTV.
JONEL MARIBOJOC/UNTV: Sir, i-push ko lang po iyong budget. How much budget po ba ang kailangan talaga para ma-address itong decongestion problem sa facilities natin?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Thank you, Jonel ‘no. So, I can only speak on behalf of BuCor dahil iyon po ang nasa ilalim po ng DOJ ‘no. It will cost about two billion per facility, roughly… depending on the need doon po sa region na iyon ‘no. So, that will be a mix between what we can get from the GAA as well as donations that we can get from the local governments.
Just to add ‘no. Mayroon po tayong plans where lahat po ng requirements sa Mandela Rules, ilalagay na ho natin sa mga jail facilities. Ngayon po kasi, hindi masyadong high-tech iyong ating mga facilities – iyong mga CCTV, iyong mga jammers natin… hindi siya effective dahil ngayon nasa NBP, sa Muntinlupa… mayroon po tayong mga neighboring communities na kung maglagay po tayo ng jammer na nakakapagpigil ng signal, hindi po siya effective dahil nga nakaka-affect din siya sa ibang communities. So, we have to look for areas around the country na medyo remote para doon po ilalagay iyong mga facilities para mas effective po iyong ating prevention in terms of the use of cellphones, iyong pagpapasok ng kontrabando at iba pang mga issue na nakikita natin sa NBP.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Asec. Mico, the Marcos administration of course is very supportive of this program – wanted to decongest our jails. How significant is the support of the President in doing these programs?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Oh, it’s… it really does mean a lot to the JSCC. It lends much credibility and much significance to the work that the Cabinet members have been doing, as well as the Supreme Court in order to really solve a problem that has been perennial in our system for a very long time. The presence of the President will not only help raise awareness, but it will also elevate the level of discussion in the summit; and hopefully, with his presence and with the motivation that he will be giving us in his opening remarks, we believe that the stakeholders, the experts will be more willing to engage in a more fruitful discussion.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Hi, sir. Sir, you were talking about hoping for the best outcome dito sa event na ito. Pero, as far as our targets are concerned, ano po iyong target natin as… iyong reducing the number of PDLs currently in our jail facilities?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: There’s a formula ‘no when we talk about overcrowding in jails – and the formula is… mahina tayo sa math eh pero ito: Jail admissions minus jail releases, multiplied by the ideal capacity. So, when you input those numbers and you look at the facility and how much PDLs can fit within a certain facility, it should not go over the ideal ‘no.
So, if the facility is meant for 7,000 – dapat 7,000 lang talaga iyong nakakulong doon. So, we’re hoping to spread out the PDLs to different facilities considering also kung saan sila nanggaling. Let’s say galing sila sa Mindanao, we hope that iyong PDL na iyon ay maikulong na lang doon sa Mindanao so the family and friends can visit – it’s part also of the reformation program ‘no.
But to address your question, iyon – iyon po ang ideal talaga na kung ano iyong capacity ng jail, kung anong capacity ng BJMP or ng BuCor – iyon lang po talaga dapat ang ceiling natin.
PIA GUTIERREZ/ABS-CBN: Are we hoping to achieve that within the administration of the President, sir?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: We are. The plan for BuCor at least is to vacate the New Bilibid Prison before 2028. By that time, we hope to have as many regional jails to be able to fit all the PDLs who are now jailed in the New Bilibid Prison.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Jonel Maribojoc…
JONEL MARIBOJOC/UNTV: Sir, may proposal po ba kayo na hihilingin sa Pangulo na nais ninyong mapabilis na mga panukalang batas para maresolba itong problema na ito?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes. Actually, that’s a very good question dahil mayroon po tayong mga long-term strategies or long-term goals kung saan puro naman mga batas ang gusto nating isulong ‘no. Just to cite a few, ito po: Iyong Enactment of Law on Diversion of Adult Offenders; Enactment of a Unified Penology Act; and the Creation of the Department of Corrections and Penology – iyon po ang nasa long-term plants po natin; Enactment of a Law on Reintegration and Psychosocial Rehabilitation; and, Amendment of the Recognizance Act of 2012 – iyon po ang mga priority bills po na siguro after this summit, mas mabigyan ng clarity para po iyon po ang hihingin natin kay Presidente na sana maging priority bill at iyon din po ang ilalapit ho natin sa Kongreso.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, Allan.
ALLAN FRANCISCO/ PTV 4: Sir, itong mga nakakulong sa BJMP or sa BuCor, ano ang usual, sir, na kaso nito?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Iba-iba po iyan ‘no – there are crimes against public order, mga corporate crimes, mga murders, heinous crimes. At ngayon po iyong problema nga ho lahat sila halu-halo sa isang facility. When you talk about reformation kailangan po kasi i-segregate iyong mga iyan – you cannot include in the same facility iyong mga murderers, kidnappers tapos mayroon ding mga those charged with estafa kasi po iba po iyong approach dapat sa mga ganoong crimes eh.
So, in the new facilities iyon po ang gagawin natin – we will categorize according to the nature of crimes and then we will conduct reformation programs according to the nature of crimes.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Jean Mangaluz, Inquirer.
JEAN MANGALUZ/ INQUIRER: Hi, sir. Sino po iyong priority when it comes to the list of requests for pardon/PDLs?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: There is no priority list, it’s more of whether they are qualified or not. So, as long as a person is qualified for pardon, for parole, probation those are the only ones that we include to the list.
So, in terms of priority wala naman po tayong pina-prioritize, it’s just a matter of whether a person is, let’s say for example, an elderly person, if a person has disabilities or is extremely ill – iyon po ang mga qualified for pardon dahil hindi na po humanitarian at wala na pong tulong iyong pagkakulong nila if they’re already elderly. The propensity to commit another crime at an advanced age is much lower except for sex offenders – iyon po iyong parang kina-carve out nating exemption, but otherwise from a humanitarian point of view iyong mga elderly po, iyong mga may disabilities at iyong mga may sakit na po ang usually qualified for pardon.
JEAN MANGALUZ/ INQUIRER: Can I have a follow-up? So, would you happen to have a number of how many of these PDLs are in jail due to drug charges especially in the previous admin?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Well, I don’t have the exact number of PDLs that were charged or are sentenced for drug-related crimes. However, we did see an increase in the congestion rate especially in the year 2017. So, from 2011 to 2017 there was a steady increase; it decreased from 2018 to 2020 but decline again because of the free bargaining allowed by the Supreme Court under the rule on reduced bail and the case of Estipona versus Lobrigo.
So, in 2017 I believe—sorry, I do have the number – as of December 31, 2021 86,000 PDLs were charged with drug cases versus 39,144 PDLs that were charged with non-drug cases.
The PDLs with drug-related offenses accounted for 69 percent of the total BJMP population and 15 percent of this are female PDLs.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Ivan Mayrina, GMA 7.
IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA 7: Asec, I would imagine there would be parallel efforts to also decongest our dockets because that is a very crucial step in decongesting our jails. Is there a similar commitment from the Supreme Court that the courts will do better in decongesting the dockets?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes. As I mentioned earlier, this is a program that is led by the Supreme Court. They will be promulgating rules on custodial hearings and requiring bail – so, that’s one way to decongest the jails. To make more efficient, we have digitalization efforts – so, we have the National Justice Information System which is a system that cuts across all sectors of the justice sector or the justice system where each agency, depending kung ano iyong role nila sa justice system, will have limited access to that database or that system, and that will further increase the effectivity and efficiency of iyong court dockets and the way that the courts resolve cases dahil po dati papel talaga iyan ang dinadala sa korte – ngayon if it’s all online, if it’s all under one system, the courts will not have to wait for the physical documents anymore and we can rely already on the system.
IVAN MAYRINA/ GMA 7: Asec, mayroon pa ho bang mga PDLs especially itong mga nasa BJMP na sa tagal nilang naghihintay ng resolution ng case nila they have actually already served out their sentence kung nasintensiyahan man sila?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes, that is entirely possible at nangyayari po iyon but the thing is itong mga cases na ito usually mababa lang po iyong sentence, let’s say six years or less. So, iyon po iyong mga cases na sa tingin ho namin ay dapat makapag-afford sila ng bail dahil maliliit lang naman po iyong mga tsina-charge sa kanila na kaso ‘no.
So, we’re hoping that with the new rules on bail they don’t have to stay a day longer than they should – dapat doon pa lang sa arraignment or sa hearing for bail makakapag-post na po sila ng bail; and with the reduced amount for bail which is at max 10,000 pesos we hope na makakapag-afford na po sila.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Alvin Baltazar.
ALVIN BALTAZAR/ RADYO PILIPINAS: Asec, kanina parang narinig ko na may target ang government na before 2028 kinakailangang ma-vacate na iyong National Bilibid Prison. Nag-start na bang ilipat iyong mga inmates doon at saka saan sila ililipat? And one more thing, Asec, mayroon bang timeline doon sa direktiba ni President Marcos na kinakailangan ay matapos iyong decongestion efforts ng gobyerno natin.
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes. We take the President’s directive very seriously kaya po within the administration’s time until 2028 we hope to build at least 16 regional jails and we’re hoping na iyong NBP ay—well, we hope to convert it into either a national government center or another government facility which can be utilized to its maximum potential dahil iyong lugar po ng NBP ay napakataas na po ng value diyan and it’s a very huge space kaya gusto po namin talaga na ma-convert iyan into a national government center. And in the process iyong mga PDLs ho natin ay ililipat na po sa 16 regional jails.
So, we’re working very tightly with the BuCor, with Director General Catapang on his plans and iyong mga sketching na po niya for the regional jails around the country.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Racquel Bayan, Radyo Pilipinas.
RACQUEL BAYAN/ RADYO PILIPINAS: Sir, for clarification lang po, iyong reduced bail po natin gumagana na po siya iyong 50 percent to 10,000 pesos?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Yes.
RACQUEL BAYAN/ RADYO PILIPINAS: And then, sir, may we get—on another topic lang po, may we gate an update kung nakipag-ugnayan na po ba ang DOJ sa Malacañang regarding po sa ICC investigation po?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: I don’t believe the Secretary and the President have spoken yet. It is something that is way above my pay level so I believe it’s something that has to be discussed between the Secretary and the President.
RACQUEL BAYAN/ RADYO PILIPINAS: Pero, sir, I mean wala pa pong official communication na nagaganap between PBBM and DOJ po?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Well, they’ve talked it before ‘no, marami na silang napag-usapan dati, dati pa pero with the new news coming out they haven’t talked maybe for about a week about the issue.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Thank you very much. Is there anything else you want to say about the program for decongestion? When is the event?
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: December 6 and 7 at the Diamond Hotel.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: All right. I’m sure the Malacañang Press Corps will be there because the President will be there.
Thank you very much, Assistant Secretary Dominic Clavano IV.
DOJ ASEC. CLAVANO: Thank you so much.
MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: And thank you, Malacañang Press Corps. This concludes our press briefing, good morning.