Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has recommended the temporary replacement of the whole team of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) assigned about a month ago at the Bataan provincial jail.
De Lima made the recommendation following her inspection on Friday of the inmates at the different prison cells of the provincial jail here, pointing out that she has seen enough to warrant investigation.
“This is to ensure objectivity and to avoid harassment of inmates who have complained of suffering injuries inflicted by BJMP personnel,” the former chair of the Commission on Human Rights said, adding that Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo has accepted her recommendation.
There are 32 BJMP personnel at the provincial jail with about 900 detainees.
They have taken over the supervision of the jail from the provincial government upon request of Bataan Gov. Enrique Garcia.
De Lima also announced that a joint fact-finding team from the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will soon conduct a formal investigation on the conflicting claims of BJMP and inmates on what happened at the jail last Saturday.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bataan chapter has told relatives of inmates on vigil at the Bataan capitol compound, some meters away from the provincial jail, that 42 detainees were hurt.
The Justice secretary said BJMP has the right to instill order and discipline, “but is the infliction of injuries justified?”
She said she will send a team of lawyers from her department to validate the claims of the wounded inmates.
“Thank you,” with round of applause were heard from the detainees as the DOJ secretary passed by their prison cells.
She promised the relatives of the prisoners outside the gate of the jail that she will double-check the condition of 17 inmates, alleged leaders of the unrest last Saturday, that were transferred in the Olongapo City jail.
De Lima also told relatives of the detainees that their visitation rights will be resumed on October 26.
“Karapatan ninyo ‘yan (That is your rights),” she said to the applause of the relatives.
“Malaki po ang tiwala namin sa inyo (We have a lot of trust in you),” the families of the inmates told De Lima.