Zubiri, Gordon want separate facility for heinous crimes convicts

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Richard Gordon have called for the establishment of a separate prison facility for those convicted of heinous crimes to isolate them from other prisoners.

Gordon and Zubiri said these prisoners should be serving their sentence separately to ensure that those convicted of heinous crimes shall be kept away from the general population and to prevent them from influencing prisoners not convicted of a heinous crime.

"Heinous crimes," as defined by Republic Act 7659, are described as "heinous for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society."

In his Senate Bill 983, Gordon explained that the heinous crime penitentiary "will house the most dangerous, vicious and violent criminals."

"The facility will ensure the control of these criminals and give the general public a sense of security and a peace of mind that they are away from those who have proven themselves depraved of basic moral aptitude necessary to live in a peaceful community," Gordon said.

Zubiri, for his part, said the near release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, "has opened our eyes on the vulnerability and the corrupt practices in our prison facilities and penitentiary system."

"The well-off prisoners and leaders of syndicates continue to live a luxurious life within the confines of our prison system. Worse, others continue their nefarious and illegal activities such as drug dealing inside the prison cell, in cahoots with prison personnel. It perpetuates the belief that there are two faces of justice in the country, justice for the poor and justice for the rich," Zubiri said in his Senate Bill 1004.

The two senators agree that heinous crimes convicts and high-level offenders shall be kept in prison facilities with maximum security and located in an isolated or uninhabited location or in an island to prevent them from escaping and have unwarranted contact with the civilian population outside of the prison facility, and become threat to society.

While the Department of Justice will be tasked to determine the location of Heinous Crime Penitentiary, Gordon said the maximum penal institution shall be located in a separate and unihabited place, preferrably in Fort Ramon Magsaysay located in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

Fort Magsaysay, the largest military reservation in the country, is a vast 35,000 hectares being administered by the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. Zubiri said placing these convicted criminals in an isolated place will cause possible perpetrators to think twice before committing such heinous crime, "as life in the heinous crime penitentiary could be worse than death."

"The establishment of the Heinous Crimes Penitentiary will solve this prevailing situation in our prison facilities and serve justice to all the victims of heinous crimes," he added.

Gordon said the transfer of high-level offenders shall be made within a period of 30 days from the completion of construction of the Heinous Crime Penitentiary, while Zubiri sees the transfer within one year from the establishment of HCP.

Source: Senate of the Philippines