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Panelo recommends internet ban in prison

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Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the ban on mobile and internet connection in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

This followed reports that high-profile inmates continue to use their cellphones inside the penitentiary.

“Simple lang ‘yan. Madali na rin ‘yung solusyon na ‘yan. Bakit naman ‘pag mayroong mga state visit bigla tayong walang cellphone— (That’s simple. The solution to that is easy. How come when there are state visits, we suddenly lose mobile signal) All you have to do is to cut that off,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Monday.

Panelo said telecommunications companies can easily cut off signal the moment they are instructed to do so.

“Who will cut that off? O ‘di siyempre (Of course) the operator ng Smart, ng Globe, tapos (then done). Then the law should require them to stop the signal, the operation of a particular use of communication system within an area,” he added.

He said he would “personally” suggest this idea to the President.

“Kung ‘yun lang ang problema. Kung nakaka-aggravate sa problema, o ‘di tanggalin na lang natin para wala na (If that’s the problem. If it aggravates the problem, let’s remove it),” Panelo said.

For several years, reports showed items such as cash, cigarette packs, mobile phones, concealed in food continue to be sneaked into facilities where high-profile inmates are detained.

Last March, the Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered an investigation of a drug lord who allegedly continues to run his business from behind bars through the internet.

Senators Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel Zubiri filed bills meant to create a separate facility for heinous crime convicts to isolate them and prevent them from committing more crimes.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra described the proposal as a “game changer” noting that this would help authorities institute reforms in the country’s prison systems.

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