MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago reiterated Wednesday her proposal for the government to let rich convicts pay for their “kubols” since these have already been built.
In an interview with reporters, Santiago said she recommended several years ago that the Philippines should follow the practice in the United States where inmates are allowed to avail of improved cells.
Unfortunately, the senator said her proposal was not taken seriously.
“Several years ago, I recommended that we should follow the procedure in the United States where they are allowed, not necessarily luxurious, but at least improved circumstances of detention over those who are just treated in a regular manner. Then we can make them (inmates) pay and give the money for government funds,” she said.
“If you cannot prevent it, then you must mitigate it. This has been going on for, perhaps, decades and it has never been stopped. That means that it has been institutionalized,” she added.
In a surprise inspection at the National Bilibid Prisons, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima found rooms filled with luxury items including a 50-inch flat screen TV, a split-type aircon, a home theater system, an LCD projector, a sauna facility, and a jacuzzi with a TV screen in the cells.
One cell even featured a stage with a sound system for live performances while others have expensive shoes, sunglasses, watches and even sex toys and gadgets inside.
Santiago said the luxurious living of some rich inmates is old news.
“That’s news of very old standing. It means that every time there is a change of leadership, that part of the maintenance of the detention prisoners is always left untouched. That means, therefore, this system is protected by very high personnel up in the Justice Department,” she said, but quickly added that she was not referring to De Lima.
“There [is] a group of people or cabal in the Department of Justice who make sure that people understand they extend their full protection to these merchant men who conduct their business there,” she said.
Santiago said that since there has been such a dramatic disclosure of the present situation, it behooves the entire Justice Department to name and reveal the identity of those who are not only actively involved in the system but who has protected it from the very start.
“They are principals, whereas the others might only be accessories or accomplices. They are principals by commission so they have higher criminal liability,” she said.
On proposal to bring back death penalty for drug lords, Santiago said there would be stiff opposition particularly from European countries which campaigned for its abolition.
The death penalty was abolished in 2006.
“If we are about to make a U-turn here, we have to contend with the opposition of the European countries. Plus it will not sit well with the coming visit of the Pope (Francis) of the Catholic Church which has always been anti-capital punishment,” Santiago said. (MNS)