De Lima seeks remedial measures vs jail congestion

Sen. Leila M. de Lima has called on the Senate to look into the extreme problem of congestion as well as the subhuman conditions of the country’s jails and penitentiaries that encouraged the proliferation of illegal activities among the inmates.

De Lima said she hopes that the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee would give the matter its utmost attention and priority as inmates continue to cramp up the already-populated jails under “unspeakable, uncivilized and inhumane condition.”

“This extreme overcrowding of prisoners in jails breeds a number of severe problems in jail management, including illness and poor hygiene among inmates, substandard sleeping accommodation, lack of food provision, among others,” she said.

“There is likewise a steady source of tension and hostility among prisoners who are cramped into congested cell areas. Most gang wars erupt despite the presence of jail guards who often lack professional trainings,” she added.

Last Jan. 10, De Lima sent Senate Justice Committee Chairman Sen. Richard J. Gordon a letter requesting him to give priority attention to P.S. Res. No. 97 seeking an inquiry in aid of legislation into the current state of jails and penitentiaries all over the country. Attached to the letter is a series of photographs published by the respectable Time Magazine which captured the congestion problem prevailing in the country’s jails and prisons.

De Lima filed the above P.S. Res. No. 97 last Aug. 15 with an end-view of “instituting remedial measures that would ensure that the government accomplishes the goals of the penal and detention systems, including the protection of the rights and welfare of persons deprived of liberty.”

“They (inmates) may have transgressed the bounds of laws and rules of our society, but prisoners are still human beings who deserve to enjoy the basic rights to live decently and with dignity,” she said in her resolution.

In 2015, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology alone accounts for 93,961 prisoners, which is 398% congestion rate in all the 461 jails in the country today, while the Bureau of Corrections with 41,144 inmates in its seven prison and penal farms.

At early 2016, the Philippines has been ranked 12th in the world with a prison population of 142,168, based on the World Prison Brief of the London-based International Centre for Prison Studies. (Accessible at

When she was justice secretary, De Lima had steered the passage into law of the modernization of the Bureau of Corrections in 2013 as part of the then Aquino administration’s resolve to decongest and improve the facilities of the country’s jail system.

In view of the administration’s intensified drive against criminality, the former justice secretary pointed out that the government should look at the pitiful state of the country’s jails and penitentiaries as an equally pressing issue that needs to be addressed.

“Such appalling image depicts the deplorable state of jail and penitentiaries where prisoners suffer more severe penalty of horrific and barbaric living condition than the actual penalty that is supposed to be meted out for crimes they have committed,” she said.

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