Rep. Rene L. Relampagos has asked the House of Representatives to conduct an investigation into the alleged irregularity in the disbursements by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) for the subsistence allowances of the inmates in various provincial jails.
Relampagos, through House Resolution No. 2134, joined the call to the concerned committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to shed light on the issue.
Jail Inspector Angelina L. Bautista, whistleblower, cried foul over the practice of what she calls as â€œdouble food budgetâ€ being done by top officials of BJMP. According to her, this anomalous scheme is facilitated through memorandum of agreements (MOAs) entered into by BJMP with various provincial government units whereby the latter are made to shoulder the subsistence allowances of inmates in their provincial jails while, at the same time, and without the knowledge of the LGUs, the said officials are collecting disbursements for the same purpose from the BJMP fund for the same period. BJMP has such MOAs with the provincial governments of Bohol, Bataan, Iloilo, Albay and Quezon.
â€œIt is disturbing to learn that this â€˜double food budgetâ€™ scheme involves Bohol.Â This is a serious matter, persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) or detainees are among the vulnerable sectors of society recognized by the United Nations. How can we encourage their reformation if the people responsible for their care are abusing them and taking advantage of their vulnerability?,â€ Rep. Relampagos said.
Bautista, referring to a copy of the MOA, explained, â€œthe MOA between the provincial government of Bataan and the BJMP clearly states that former will provide funds for the subsistence allowance of inmates during the transition period, where the phase of gradual transfer of management and jurisdiction from provincial LGUs to BJMP.â€ And yet, based on some documents, the “BJMP reported expenditures for subsistence allowance including the food needs of the same jail and inmates for the same period,â€Â Bautista said. â€œThe accumulated amount from August 10, 2010 to August 2013 could reach up to Php 50 million.â€
Bautista filed a plunder complaint against seven top officials of BJMP in connection with the alleged misappropriation of public funds. She cited the case of Bataan which turned over the jail supervision to the BJMP through a MOA dated August 18, 2010. Under the Bataan MOA, the provincial government appropriated funds for the subsistence of the inmates and for the payment of electric bills and water supply during the transition period. However, BJMP still appropriated and released funds for the Bataan jail for the same period.
The government’s General Appropriations Act allocates for each inmate under the custody of the BJMP and the Bureau of Corrections, P50.00 for food subsistence and P3.00 for medicine allowance daily. According to Bautista, â€œOf this P50.00 allowance, only a meager P15.00 actually goes to the subsistence allowance of the inmates.â€
Rep. Relampagos said, â€œWe have to remember that these PDLs are not yet convicted with finality and are still awaiting decisions of their cases in courts. Many of them remain in detention because they have no money to post bail. If government does not take care of them, who else will?â€
As per September 2015 data of BJMP, there are more than 93,000 PDLs in 464 BJMP manned jails throughout the country. BJMP manned jails include district jails, city jails, municipal jails, female dormitories and other jails.
HR 2134 is currently pending with the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability.