Palace: No quick solution to ‘VIP’ drug lords in prison

Natashya Gutierrez
Palace: No quick solution to ‘VIP’ drug lords in prison
The government has known of the problem for a long time but says it was studying its extent and depth, culiminating in the raid on the state penitentiary

MANILA, Philippines – A day after a prison raid revealed that drug lords enjoy luxurious amenities at the New Bilibid Prison, Malacañang came to the defense of the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying the problem cannot be fixed overnight. 

Asked why the administration has failed to resolve the longstanding problem, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr on Tuesday, December 16, said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has been working on it ever since it came to her attention. 

“A lot of the illegal activities were known of since the beginning of the administration. It was also known to her that this is a widespread and deep problem that cannot be solved in just one moment,” Coloma said.

He said that the “depth and extent” of the problem was studies over time, culiminating in the Monday raid.

“Many individuals were caught.  [The raid] showed just have widespread and deep the illegal activities are,” Coloma said.

He said reforms in the penology system are being pursued, citing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board’s decision to build a modern facility in Nueva Ecija to improve the system of confinement in the country which focuses on reforming inmates. 

“We recognize that one of the weaknesses of the criminal justice system is the weakness of the penology system,” he said. “There are many loopholes and a lot of practices over the past years that were made permissible, and the administration is currently determining what these are.”

Coloma also reiterated de Lima’s vow that the drug lords and individuals who made possible the VIP treatment behind bars would be held accountable, and the goal to ensure national penitentiaries would become “drug-free.”

On Monday, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials paid a surprise visit to the prison in response to reports that some convicted drug lords received special treatment and continued their illegal drug trade behind bars.

During the raid, officials found air-conditioned rooms with entertainment sets, a jacuzzi, cash, drugs and drug paraphernalia as well as stripper poles and inflatable sex toys.

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