De Lima open to 'white-collar' prisons

Posted at 04/07/14 2:43 PM

MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said she is open to the creation of a special jail for criminals involved in "white collar" crimes in order to address the trend of granting hospital or house arrest to high-profile detainees.

"Medyo bago iyan sa sistema natin. Marami hong magugulat sa ganyang panukala, pero siyempre, it is worth looking into. It is worth considering. Siyempre kailangan dyan ng batas," de Lima told ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda.

De Lima explained that there are currently two kinds of jail facilities in the country: one for those waiting for final judgment, managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the other for convicted prisoners, managed by the Bureau of Corrections.

The DOJ chief said she is leaving the decision to provide a special facility to the country's policy-makers. She added such a proposal needs a budget that the government may not be capable to provide.

"It's time to start discussions dyan sa panukala na iyan. Lalo na at maraming pagkukulang, deficiencies sa correctional system. Basically, it's also a question of resources," she said.

Former National Food Authority Administrator Romeo David proposed that special jails for "white-collar" criminals be set up amid the trend of granting hospital or house arrest to high-profile detainees, and the possible arrest of individuals charged with plunder and malversation charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.

A white-collar crime refers to financially motivated non-violent crime, usually committed by people in government and in business.

David said the white-collar prison scheme is being practiced in developed countries, where sometimes private companies are in charge of maintaining a jail facility.

David said he has been proposing the system since the time of then President Corazon Aquino. He said he revived the idea after Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III questioned the legality of granting of house or hospital arrest.


But Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) founding chairman Dante Jimenez does not agree with the proposal, saying "all men are supposed to be treated equally."

Jimenez said even influential people accused of committing heinous crimes are able to escape prison by allegedly colluding with doctors so they could be placed under house arrest.

"Marami pang mga ganyan, ginagawang excuse ang kanilang health at nagkakaroon pa ng collusion sa mga doctor. Dapat imbestigahan ito," Jimenez told dzMM.

"It pains us, kaming mga biktima ng heinous crimes, na binibigyan mo ng special treatment ang mga taong ito."