Law to modernize prison facilities

Manila, Philippines -- Supt. Antonio Cruz, officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Correction (BuCor)'s Office of the Assistant Director for Prison and Security, Supt. Antonio Cruz is lauding the new Bureau of Corrections law signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III particularly since he said it will pave the way for the modernization of facilities, professionalize the service and effect an increase in the salary of personnel.

Republic Act 10575, or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, was signed by the President last May 24.

Cruz said that under the law, the salaries of BuCor personnel, especially jail guards, will be hiked and Bureau facilities and system will be upgraded.

The Department of Budget and Management is directed by the law to "determine the equivalent rank of the BuCor's uniformed personnel patterned after the existing ranks of the military and uniformed personnel of other departments."

More jail guards will be hired, Cruz said, to meet the ideal ratio under the new law of one custodial personnel for every seven inmates.

There are now 37,847 inmates at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, and seven penal colonies in the provinces.

Cruz said the current jail guard-inmate ratio is 1:81. He said there are now about 3,000 custodial personnel in the BuCor, far below the ideal number of 15,000 custodial employees to supervise and guard inmates and jail facilities.

Section 10 of the new law provides that custodial personnel-to-inmate ratio should be 1:7 while the reformation personnel-to-inmate ratio should be 1:24.

"Hence, [the BuCor] is authorized to increase its manpower to meet such ratio and may continue to increase personnel per percentage rate increase of committed inmates annually or as the need arises," according to the provision.

The law also directs the BuCor to study the establishment of a Philippine Corrections Academy, which is similar to the Philippine National Police Academy.

"It will come later," Cruz said, adding that the BuCor now has an existing Personnel Training School for its personnel.

The law also establishes a retirement age of 56 years old for newly hired uniformed personnel of the BuCor. The current employees may serve until 65 years old.

It also gives the BuCor the "absolute authority" to manage and implement land-use development plans for all its existing lands including the NBP.

"All BuCor lands shall have a Certificate of Title registered under its name," the law said.

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