Philippines Report

Druglords to exile in West Philippine Sea – Lawmakers

Druglords to exile in West Philippine Sea

Druglords to exile in West Philippine Sea

A lawmaker on Monday proposed sending drug lords jailed at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to an island in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement, ACT-CIS party list representative Nina Taduran said the “detained powerful drug lords” could continue doing business via cellphones and by bribing guards and officials. To put a stop to the illegal practices, she suggested putting convicts in a place “with no cellphone signal, no guards to bribe, and no means of escape.”

She was referring to reports of corruption in Bilibid, where inmates allegedly obtain freedom for a fee, and are able to bribe guard and officials to bring in cellphones that they use for illegal drugs transactions.

“There are numerous islets in the West Philippine Sea near Pagasa island being claimed by the Philippines, where someone with the ingenuity and resourcefulness of these convicted drug lords could survive on their own,” Taduran said.

Taduran added the islands could be designated as penal colonies and since the Armed Forces were already patrolling the area, they would be able to make sure no prisoners escape.

“The move would in fact solve not only all the problems hounding the New Bilibid Prison at the moment, but also help the Philippine government assert its claim over these islands in the West Philippine sea, by populating them with… Filipino prisoners,” Taduran pointed out.

The lawmaker also suggested other convicts in the NBP could be transferred to other penal colonies and the national penitentiary complex could be sold to the private sector to raise funds for the government's “Build, Build, Build” program.

“Nasa likod lang ng Ayala Alabang ang NBP, mas pakikinabangan ng pamahalaan kung ibebenta na lang ang lupang ‘yan, kaysa patirahin diyan ang mga pasaway na druglords,” said Taduran.

[Translation: The NBP is just behind Ayala Alabang, and the governemt could benefit more if the land is sold rather than let drug lords live there.]

An arbitral tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2016 that all of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea — some of which are being claimed by the Philippines — are rocks incapable of sustaining human habitation in their natural condition. It is not clear from Taduran's proposal how the prisoners can live on one of such sea features.

The dozens of soldiers and civilians who live on Pag-asa survive on supplies ferried to the island.

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