PN file photo

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) is contemplating reintroducing the “Barrio Libertad” community of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) living with their families within the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) under minimum security.

Information officer CTO II Levi Evangelista said that this is one of the plans of BuCor director general Gregorio Catapang, Jr., along with the possible establishment of a Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) within the IPPF.

The bureau believes that the program could contribute to the continuous reformation and boost the morale of PDLs while they are confined inside the prison.

Evangelista explained that this practice is not new to IPPF, as it existed before as Barrio Libertad around the 1970s. The children of PDLs also attended classes in schools built within the sub-colonies.

However, changes in leadership and administrations led to the end of the program, he added.

“Hindi naman ito bago, ganito na si Iwahig before, and wala naman tayong nakikitang security risk o problem in regards to that. Part of the program of reformation—ang ganda ng program na iyon na kasama na nila yong kanilang pamilya (This is not new, Iwahig has done this before, and we don’t see any security risk or problem regarding that. It’s part of the reformation program, and it’s a beautiful program where they are with their families),” he said.

After a series of deliberations, including validation of the legitimacy of the PDLs’ spouses’ marriage, the institution will allow the PDLs’ families to reside with them.

If the plan is pursued, the IPPF will allot an area exclusively for the small community of PDLs with their families. It might be called “Barrio Libertad” again or given a new name, Evangelista added.

“Then it is a big factor and boosts the morale of the inmates as well. Hindi na siya tatakas, as simple as that, nasa minimum na siya, kasama niya na pamilya niya. There’s no reason para tumakas pa siya at gumawa ng hindi maganda sa loob (He won’t escape anymore, as simple as that. He’s already under minimum security, with his family. There’s no reason for him to escape or do anything harmful inside),” he said.

The management believes that this will not be a security risk and will also heighten security measures to prevent the entry of contrabands.

“As a prison facility, expect natin yong lahat ng worst scenario na pwedeng mangyari pero hihigpitan natin (ang security). Meron naman iyan, from time to time check and naniniwala tayo na hindi na sila gagawa ng kalokohan kasi kasama na nila yong family nila (As a prison facility, we expect all the worst scenarios that could happen, but we will tighten security. We have measures in place, regular checks, and we believe they won’t cause any trouble anymore because they are with their families),” he said.