Prison facility is key to progress and development in DRT—Sen. Imee

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CITY OF BALIWAG—The mountainous Dona Remedios Trinidad (DRT) town, named after the grandmother of President Marcos can rather host a national penitentiary facility and become the key to its development rather than mining activities in the town’s natural resources like tea rose marble and other minerals continue but without bringing the much needed progress to the town, according to Senator Imee Marcos, senate chair in social justice, welfare and rural development committee.

The senator in a media interview in this city on February 6 said progress and development in DRT is long overdue and that a Bureau of Correction (BuCor) facility which would be given a budget to be constructed could pave the way for the long awaited progress in the town.

She said DRT has a cold and better climate and still has a pristine environment that’s why it is being branded as the “Tagaytay of the North”. However, she said, roads still have to be improved. The town, she also said, has a very vast land which even the New People’s Army (NPA) had given up to stay.

The welcome arc of Dona Remedios Trinidad, (DRT), the branded “Tagaytay of the north” because of its pristine mountains and cold weather. It is a favorite mountain trekking, camping, glamping and other outdoor activities. It also has numerous falls and resorts. Photo taken by Carmela Reyes-Estrope in March 2022 

“Palagay ko malaking bagay rin na magkaroon ng development doon kasi alam naman natin napakalawak ng lupa doon at napakaganda. Imbes na magkairingan sa tea rose marble at mining at kung anu ano, na hindi naman na develop ang lugar ay mas maganda ng madevelop ito, bagsakan ng budget para sa bilanggo at kulungan at the same time mga kalsada. Maganda ang klima doon, malamig kaya nga tinatawag na Tagaytay of the North. Chance na ito na magkaroon ng budget for development at mabuo ang iba pang mga kalsada. Kulang na kulang pa ang development sa kalayuan at sa hirap marating ng lugar ay sinukuan na rin ito pati ng NPA kaya palagay ko panahon na para madevelop ito, overdue na kung tutuusin,” she said.   

Marcos visited the city and distributed P6-million worth of Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to displaced public market vendors and city force multipliers.   

She told officials and residents in this city that she is a full Baliwagenya because her grandmother, the mother of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Dona Remedios Trinidad hails from Baliwag. DRT was established in 1977 as the 24th town of Bulacan after Valenzuela (then named Polo town) was declared part of Metro Manila during the term of the former First Lady as Metro Manila Commission Governor.

The senator is the eldest sister of the President.

Free use of Bulacan Capitol’s lot property

Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando earlier offered a free use of a provincial government owned lot property in DRT to become one of the future sites of a major Luzon prison facility of BuCor to help decongest the national penitentiary. 

Fernando told the media in an earlier interview that the Provincial Government of Bulacan (PGB) owns more than 1,000 hectares of land in different areas in DRT. 

He said while the Breeding and Productivity Center of PGB will be constructed in an area within a separate lot property of the PGB in DRT, there is still more than 1,000 hectares that could be used for other major projects. 

The governor told NEWS CORE that with the national government providing the budget for the prison facility, it could use the PGB lot for free and without needing to buy or acquire the property. The governor said that there will be a memorandum of agreement for the land usage. 

“Meron ang PGB na 1,000 hectares sa iba’t ibang lugar sa DRT. Kung bubudgetin nila walang problema. Pwede naman nating I-offer yung provincial lot, hindi naman ibebenta, mag-MOA tayo sa kanila,” the governor said. 

BuCor Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. in a recent decongestion summit presentation presents DRT as the first Luzon penal facility other than the already existing Sablayan colony in Occidental Mindoro under the Long Term Development Plan 2023-2040 to help decongest the national penitentiary facility in Muntinlupa City. 

The facilities will include one in Bacolod City in Negros Occidental for the Visayas and one in Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao for Mindanao. 

The facilities will be called “Supermax” for inmates convicted of heinous crimes. 

The National Decongestion Summit was spearheaded by the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) comprising the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government which seeks to tackle jail overcrowding and foster a more humane criminal justice system. 

The summit is jointly sponsored by the European Union’s Justice Sector Reform Programme: Governance in Justice II (GOJUST II) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with funding from the Australian Government and the European Union. Dec. 6-7 in Manila. 

Catapang has been promoting BuCor’s “Sa Likod ng Rehas, may Panibagong Bukas,” thrust for the inmates. 

P4-B worth Provincial Jail

The governor said there is also a proposed P4-billion worth Bulacan Provincial Jail facility the PGB submitted to the Office of the President last year to address the congestion in the province’s main local jail facility.

According to Bulacan Provincial Warden Rizalino Andaya, the proposed P4-billion jail facility in DRT will be constructed in a 10-hectare lot property which can accommodate 5,000 detainees. 

Andaya, a retired police colonel said the new jail facility of the province will be a state of the art structure complete with hospital, receiving area and a diagnostic center.

The Bulacan Provincial Jail also known as “Lex” which was built more than 6 decades ago can only accommodate more than 1,000 inmates but has been filled with up to nearly 5,000 detainees particularly during the recent years. It now hosts

The pandemic in 2020 caused the number of detainees to decline including the plea bargaining on drug cases and also due to regional trial court efforts to hasten up the hearings of the charges against the detainees.  Today, Lex has only 1,581 detainees, 1,396 male and 185 female.   

Bulacan with more than 3.7 million in population is the largest province in Central Luzon. 

“First term ko pa lang gumawa na ako ng proposal na ilipat ang provincial jail natin sa lupa ng Kapitolyo sa DRT para matanggal na dito iyong kulungan, o iyang ating Lex dahil ang gusto ko maging kapaki-pakinabang ang mga detainees natin, maging involve sila sa agriculture, mag-alaga sila ng mga hayop, kambing, kalabaw, baboy, bibe, manok at hindi handicrafts lang tulad ng ginagawa nila ngayon. Nagkakasakit din ang mga preso dahil hindi sila naarawan. Pero kailangan natin ng budget,” the governor said. 

DRT because of its pristine nature and mountainous sites, various falls and rivers is considered the tourism capital of Bulacan. It is a favorite mountain trekking, camping, glamping, hiking, swimming and other nature-adventure destinations and activities. 

Bulacan provincial tourism officer Eliseo Dela Cruz said DRT which is about 60 km east of Metro Manila and has a land area of 932.96 square kilometers or 360.22 square miles which constitutes 33.52% of Bulacan’s 279,610 total area is known over the years as the “Tagaytay of the north”.  

DRT is 31km east from the Bulacan Capitol in the City of Malolos. 

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