Republic Act No. 11928: Everything You Need To Know
High-profile convicts of heinous crimes are moving to an isolated and separate facility anytime soon. The Department of Justice and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has finally finished drafting the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law to construct a separate facility for high-level offenders of heinous crimes.
What is Republic Act No. 11928?
Republic Act No. 11928, also known as “An Act Establishing a Separate Facility for Persons Deprived of Liberty Convicted of Heinous Crimes and Appropriating Funds Therefor” or shall be known as the Separate Facility for Heinous Crimes Act, lapsed into law on July 30, 2022.
This act provides for the construction of at least three facilities for high-level offenders of heinous crimes in the Philippines, with one facility each in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Department of Justice (DOJ), through its spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano, said that”the facility shall be built in a suitable location away from the general population and other persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and preferably within a military establishment or an island separate from the mainland.”
The facility shall be located in a secured and isolated place to ensure that there would be no unwarranted contact or communication from outside of the penal institution. Each facility will also have separate facilities for males and females. A separate dormitory shall also be provided for the members of the LGBT Community.
What is a Heinous Crime?
Under this act, crimes are considered 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.”
Heinous crimes include the following:
Piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas and in Philippine waters
Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
Illegal drugs trafficking
Persons convicted of these crimes shall be sentenced to death. However, this penalty was reduced to reclusion perpetual after the death penalty was abolished in 2006 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo through Republic Act No. 9346. Reclusion Perpetua provides for imprisonment of at least 20 years and one (1) day to a maximum of 40 years.
Who are Persons Deprived of Liberty Under Republic Act No. 11928?
Under Republic Act No. 11928, a person deprived of liberty (PDL) is a “person sentenced by a court to serve a term of imprisonment for an offense committed punishable under the Revised Penal Code (RPC), customs and tariff laws or other laws within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs or enforceable by it, immigration laws, election laws, and other special penal laws, whether or not such person sentenced has filed an appeal.”
Who are High-Level Offenders Under Republic Act No. 11928?
High Level Offenders are persons convicted of heinous crimes and sentenced to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment.
Republic Act No. 11928: What Can This Act Do?
The facilities will have state-of-the-art surveillance cameras and the latest information technology and security systems that monitor the inmates 24/7. The facilities’ doors, locks, and perimeters will have “enhanced and extensive security features.” Solar, rainwater harvesting, biogas, and the like shall also be provided in the construction of the facility for self-sustainability, in compliance with Republic Act No. 10575, and other existing laws, rules, and regulations.
The DOJ said that the BuCor will ensure that the PDLs who are classified as high-level offenders shall be allowed to communicate with their legal counsels and relatives through phone calls, video calls, or correspondence, following the guidelines of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and other international standards.
There will also be Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructures and software in the facility for the digitization of all information for the buildup, maintenance, and transmittal of all PDL records to the prison and penal farms of the BuCor and other authorized government agencies.
Clavano added that the ICT infrastructure and software system would have a maintenance plan and integration model for efficient and effective monitoring of the inmates and for easier sharing of information with various concerned government agencies.
Congestion of Prison Cells
According to BuCor’s public information head, Corrections Chief Supt. Julie May C. Taguiam, the maximum-security compound of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, which houses convicts of heinous crimes, has 29,204 PDLs as of October 2022. The number of inmates in BuCor prisons nationwide was 50,141, and there are 3,608 heinous crime convicts in all seven BuCor prison cells and penal farms.
Once these high-profile convicts are transferred, it will decongest the facilities in these prison cells and penal farms. The transfer of high-profile convicts shall take place 30 days from the completion of the construction of the facilities.
DOJ Secretary Crispin Remulla said that he is considering Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm Reservation in Occidental Mindoro, Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte as some of the facilities to be set up in the Visayas region. Another facility may be put up at San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City.
Transfer of PDLs to Heinous Crimes Facilities
Section 6 of the Separate Facility for Heinous Crimes Act explains the transfer of PDLs convicted of heinous crimes to heinous crimes facilities. Their transfer shall be headed by the BuCor, and they may seek the assistance of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through the Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), or the Philippine Coast Guard when the means to transfer PDLs will be done through aircraft or sea vessel. The expenses for this transfer shall be charged against the budget of BuCor.
The BuCor shall ensure that the transfer of PDLs shall be done as privately as possible or with little to no exposure from public view. BuCor shall also provide proper safeguards to protect the PDLs from insult, curiosity, and publicity. This section also states that PDLs should not be subject to any form of physical hardship while they are being transferred.
Separate vehicles shall be used for male and female PDLs while they are being transferred. However, women and minors between 15 and 17 years old shall be transferred and kept in a separate building inside the heinous crime facility.
Once the transfer is fully executed, the BuCor, PNP, AFP, or PCG, as the case may be, will submit a joint report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Conduct of Inspection and Random Drug Testing
Under Section 9 of the Act, there shall be an internal inspection conducted by the prison administration and an external inspection conducted by the DOJ on a regular basis to check if the facility is administered in accordance with the Constitution, this Act, and other rules and regulations to attain the objectives of the penal system.
There shall also be regular random drug testing among the PDLs, which shall be done by any forensic laboratory or by any of the drug testing laboratories accredited and monitored by the Department of Health (DOH) to safeguard the quality of test results.
The Congress shall also conduct a regular review of the implementation of and compliance with this Act to evaluate the performance of the concerned agencies. This shall be undertaken by the committees in the Senate and House of Representatives.
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