BJMP seeks raise of inmates’ ₱15 daily medicine allowance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 31) — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Thursday asked Congress to double, or even triple the ₱15 daily budget for the medicine of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) or inmates in detention facilities.

During the House Appropriations Committee’s briefing on the Department of Interior and Local Government’s proposed ₱262 billion budget for 2024, BJMP chief Jail Director Ruel Rivera said the ₱15 daily allocation for prisoners’ medicine is insufficient.

"Kulang na kulang ang ₱15 na allocation," Rivera said. "We are requesting po sana na double, or ₱50 per day na pondo sa PDL para sa kanilang health benefits."

[Translation: The ₱15 allocation is not enough. We are requesting it be doubled, or be given a ₱50 per day fund for the PDL's health benefits.]

The BJMP is an attached agency of the DILG. It has been allotted ₱23.8 billion under the 2024 national expenditure program.

Inmates in detention facilities managed by the Bureau of Corrections also have a P15 medicine budget per day. The daily subsistence or food allowance of prisoners in both BJMP- and BuCor-managed jails is ₱70.

RELATED: Remulla: DBM rejected BuCor's request for prisoners' allowance hike

Data from the BJMP’s website showed that as of Sept. 30, 2022, there were 131,311 inmates in the detention facilities managed by the bureau.

The congestion rate at BJMP-managed detention facilities is at 370%, which means an average of five inmates are crammed in 4.7 square meters of jail space.

Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma proposed that the budget for the monthly rice subsidy of uniformed personnel be realigned to increase the inmates’ food and medicine allowance.

"Can we realign this for additional subsistence of the PDL? Kasi unfair naman ‘yan sa non-uniformed personnel [Because that's unfair to non-uniformed personnel]. Uniformed personnel are receiving, the non-uniformed are not receiving. So why don’t we have a level playing field?" said Palma.

Philippine National Police chief PGen Benjamin Acorda Jr. said he is leaving the matter to Congress to decide, while Bureau of Fire Protection chief Director Louie Puracan said he supports the realignment, but noted that the rice subsidy is a “big deal” for low-ranking employees.

"On the side of the Bureau of Fire Sir, the 20 kilos allocation per month is a big deal for those (in) the lower ranks, from fire officer 1 to fire officer 2," said Puracan.

Since 2017, military and uniformed personnel receive a monthly cash allowance equivalent to 20 kilos of rice. However, non-uniformed personnel in the armed forces, PNP, BJMP, and BFP are not entitled to the subsidy.

Acorda said the PNP has a ₱1.8 billion budget for 2023 for giving a ₱700 monthly rice subsidy to 213,202 police officers.