PH can now build its own ‘Alcatraz’ under new law

Stock photo of hands holding prison bars.  STORY: PH can now build their own

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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may soon have an island prison similar to the notorious US Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island after a bill to create separate facilities for heinous crimes becomes law.

Conciliated Senate Bill 1055 and House Bill 10355 became law July 30 after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. failed to enact or veto it 30 days after lawmakers submitted the measure to Malacañang.

Under the new law, the government is mandated to establish and maintain “a safe, clean, well-equipped and sanitary national penitentiary” for “high-level offenders” – those convicted of heinous crimes or those sentenced to life imprisonment.

The new law defines heinous crimes as “offences that are serious, heinous and heinous and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and evil, or contrary and scandalous to the common norms and standards of decency and morality in a just and civilized society. and an orderly society.

These include treason, piracy and mutiny on the high seas in Philippine waters, aggravated bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious unlawful detention, violent theft or intimidation of persons, destructive arson and rape.

One each for LuzVisMin

The new law requires the government to build at least one heinous crime prison in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

He said perpetrators of heinous crimes currently serving time in prisons run by the Bureau of Corrections would be transferred to those facilities.

“The Heinous Crimes Center shall be located in a secure and isolated location ensuring that there is no unwarranted contact or communication with persons outside the correctional facilities,” the law said.

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The facility must be constructed at “a suitable location” to be determined by the Justice Secretary, preferably “within a military establishment or on an island.”

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, one of the main authors of the law, said earlier that the new prisons could be built on remote, uninhabited islands.

“Far from their victims and from society as a whole, Alcatraz-like prisons will keep us safe. They suffer the punishment and we are protected far from their clutches,” Zubiri said in 2019.

Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, was the San Francisco Bay Island penitentiary that operated from the 1930s until it closed in 1963 and then turned into a tourist attraction. One of its well-known inmates was crime kingpin Al Capone.

Over 5,000 islands available

Zubiri did not propose a specific site for an Alcatraz-style island prison.

More than 7,600 islands make up the Philippine archipelago according to the official count as of 2017. Only 2,000 of them are inhabited.

The law stipulates that the funds necessary for its implementation during its first year will be taken from the budget of the Ministry of Justice for the current financial year and that the amounts necessary for the following years will be included in the annual national budget. .

The Hate Crimes Separate Facilities Act was among 41 bills from the previous Congress that had become law since Marcos took office.

Marcos has so far vetoed five bills, including the bill creating the special Bulacan Airport City ecozone and the bill granting tax exemptions for fees, allowances and other benefits. given to election workers.

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With only five bills vetoed versus 41 becoming law, the president can’t be said to have taken a “veto spree,” according to publicist Trixie Cruz Angeles.

—WITH AN INQUIRER RESEARCH REPORT

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