By Jimmy Pilapil
GOVERNMENT, private individuals and groups have been talking about the possible transfer of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) from Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) to Tanay town in Rizal province.
But the truth is, the Tanay national penitentiary has no blueprint up to this day.
“So far, there is no detailed plan or architectural design of the proposed NBP compound in Tanay. The plan remains an executive order,” said Supt. Francisco Abunales, the chief of the Bureau of Corrections reengineering division, an office in charge of preparing physical improvements of national penal colonies.
The plan to put up a prison complex to be built at a 270-hectare lot in Tanay was conceived in 2006 under the administration of former President and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga.
Mrs. Arroyo issued Executive Order 568, which mandated the setting up of a new prison complex, and Proclamation 1158, which reserved the lot at barangay (village) Cayumbay in Tanay.
The Department of Justice, which was assigned to oversee the transfer, was to coordinate with the Budget and Environment departments for funding requirements and arrangements for the transfer.
But more than five years had passed and nothing concrete has come out to implement the modernization plan of the national penitentiary.
NBP has an aggregate land area of 531 hectares of which less than 20 hectares are being occupied by the more or less 40,000 inmates spread in three security compounds namely, maximum; medium also known as Sampaguita compound; and minimum also called Bagong Liwaway compound.
The national penitentiary opened in 1940 to accommodate an increasing number of prisoners.
For other uses
In 1991, then-President Corazon Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation 792, which was amended by Presidential Proclamation 120 issued on December 15, 1992, segregating 104.22 hectares of the NBP land area as housing site intended for Department of Justice and other government employees.
The housing project is now known as Katarungan Village.
When Mrs. Arroyo assumed office, she gave an instruction to the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) to study the allocation of portions of the penal reservation as housing sites for low-salaried government employees and for socialized housing purposes.
At the height of clearing Metro Manila’s railways of squatters, she issued Presidential Proclamation 234 on August 15, 2002, segregating 50 hectares of the NBP land area for socialized housing for families affected by the Rail Linkage Project in the Muntinlupa alignment.
The number of families affected was about 10,555.
In 2006, Mrs. Arroyo issued issuances to fast-track development of the NBP property for residential and mixed-use purposes.
The Arroyo administration identified the land allocation of the 366.7 hectares as follows: 78 hectares for government housing; 22 hectares for mixed-income residential purposes (with priority given to existing and qualified residents within NBP); 44 hectares for institutional, public or quasi-public purposes; 147 hectares for mixed-use/commercial/residential purposes; 51.7 hectares for open spaces; and 24 hectares for the implementation of the Daang-Hari South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Road Link Project.
NBP is just one of the seven penal colonies and farms under the Bureau of Corrections.
Among its notable inmates were Amado Hernandez, a National Artist for Literature who wrote his masterpieces while imprisoned in the facility; former Sen. Jovito Salonga, who was imprisoned by the Japanese Kempetai in 1942; and Tomoyuki Yamashita, commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines in 1944.