BUCOR Launches Investigation into Strip Search Incident at New Bilibid Prison

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Investigation Ordered into Strip Search Complaint at New Bilibid Prison

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in Manila, Philippines is facing scrutiny after the wives of political prisoners filed a complaint regarding a strip search during their recent visit to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. In response, BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered an investigation into the matter.

Commitment to Transparency and Accountability

Despite being away in Malaysia for a summit, Director General Catapang has expressed the BuCor’s willingness to be investigated in order to clarify the agency’s position on matters concerning the visitation of persons deprived of liberty (PDLS). This commitment to transparency and accountability is essential in maintaining public trust and ensuring that the rights of both prisoners and visitors are protected.

Strict Implementation of Strip Search

The implementation of strip searches in all operating prisons and penal farms has become necessary due to the increasing number of visitors caught attempting to smuggle contraband hidden in their private parts. This measure aims to prevent the entry of illegal substances and other prohibited items into the prison facilities.

According to CCINSP Roger Boncales, the acting superintendent of the New Bilibid Prison, strip searches are now mandatory for all visitors of PDLS. This decision was made after random and frisk searches proved to be ineffective in detecting contraband. From October 2023 to March 8 of this year, approximately 30 visitors were caught attempting to smuggle contraband, including suspected illegal drugs and tobacco, concealed in their private parts or sewn into their underwear.

Visitor Control and Search Procedures

The BuCor operating manual on visitor control clearly outlines the procedures for body searches and screening of belongings/packages before entering the security camp. All visitors, regardless of gender, are subjected to a thorough body search to ensure that no prohibited items are brought inside the prison premises.

Female visitors, however, are searched by female corrections officers in a private area, with the consent of the concerned visitor. This measure is in place to respect the privacy and dignity of female visitors while still maintaining the necessary security protocols.

Promoting Fairness and Responsibility

Director General Catapang emphasized the importance of strict implementation of strip searches without fear or favor. This approach is crucial in fulfilling the responsibility of protecting PDLS and preventing any accusations of providing VIP treatment to certain individuals. The BuCor recognizes that any exemption from the strip search procedure could compromise the safety and security of the prison facilities.

To further enhance the security measures, the BuCor has appealed to Congress for additional funding to acquire full-body scanner machines similar to those used in airports. These scanners would provide a more efficient and less invasive method of detecting any hidden contraband.

In conclusion, the recent complaint regarding the strip search at the New Bilibid Prison has prompted an investigation by the BuCor. The agency remains committed to transparency, accountability, and the protection of the rights of both prisoners and visitors. The strict implementation of strip searches, along with thorough visitor control and search procedures, aims to prevent the entry of contraband into the prison facilities. By adhering to these protocols, the BuCor strives to maintain fairness, responsibility, and the overall safety and security of the prison system in the Philippines.

Source: The Manila Times

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