THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) is eyeing to propose a budget of P2.5 billion next year for the construction of a new maximum security facility in the town of Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro.  

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told a live-streamed forum that the agency also aims to relocate the national penitentiary’s minimum security facility to Nueva Ecija.  

Mr. Remulla noted that the existing Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm would be a suitable site for a new maximum security prison given its land area of 16,190 hectares.   

Last week, Senator Aquilino Martin D. Pimentel III told a Senate hearing that the country should have a “world-class” maximum-security prison with modern security capabilities.  

Mr. Remulla earlier said there are 17,000 inmates in the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City, which was designed to house 6,000 inmates. He also said he plans to coordinate with the Interior department to streamline the digitalization of jail records to address congestion.  

The Philippine Human Rights Commission has repeatedly flagged the worsening congestion in the country’s jails, more recently because of the increase of arrested suspects in connection with former President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug campaign. John Victor D. Ordoñez