Budget Watch

No budget for new PH jails in 2021 despite over congestion

Rambo Talabong
Senator Nancy Binay urges her colleagues to earmark more money for Philippine jails before the budget is approved at the plenary

There is no money allotted in the 2021 budget proposal of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to build new jails despite the festering problem of overcrowding.

At present jails in the country have a national congestion rate of 335%, that means there are 3 times more people incarcerated than the intended capacity of prisons.

This was disclosed during the Senate finance committee hearing on Thursday, October 1, which reviewed the budget proposal of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Towards the end of the 3-hour interpellation, Senator Nancy Binay asked jails chief Director Allan Iral about BJMP’s budget to build new jail facilities in 2021.

“We were only given budget for perimeter fences by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” Iral responded, alarming senators in the Zoom-facilitated hearing.

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“If we don’t fund the construction of new jail cells for next year, we will not catch up and solve our congestion problem,” Binay said.

According to Iral, the perimeter fences that the DBM approved for their budget are for their 316 newly built detention facilities that needed to be enclosed before they can be used. The BJMP budget proposal allotted P46.46 million for these fences.

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The DBM screens the proposed budgets of government agencies before they are transmitted to Congress. DBM filters projects based on different factors such as government priorities, the agency’s disbursement rate, and its absorptive capacity.

Binay urged her fellow lawmakers to earmark more resources for the BJMP before its budget is approved at the plenary. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.