By Benjamin Pulta

Bureau of Corrections Acting Director General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. (File photo) .

MANILA – Prison officials on Friday said it will proceed with plans to develop a 270-hectare property of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in Tanay town, Rizal province to put up headquarters and residential sites for Bucor workers.

In a statement, the BuCor reiterated that it remains as the owner of the property which is being claimed by a group, the Masungi Georeserve Foundation.

BuCor Acting Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. said the bureau’s Tanay property will also be used “for the sustainment of its basic institutional food requirements.”

“BuCor is the registered owner of the subject property by virtue of the transfer certificate of title (NR 069-20220110986) issued in favor of BuCor,” Catapang said in a statement.

“Existing jurisprudence dictates that until and unless it is nullified by a court of competent jurisdiction in a direct proceedings for the cancellation of title, the title to the land under the name of the Bureau of Corrections remains indefeasible and binding upon the whole world,” he said.

He pointed out that being the registered owner of the subject property, BuCor has all the right to conduct any activity in the area, including “the questioned ocular inspection that was conducted by our personnel.”

“The subject 270 hectares of land which is titled under the name of the Bureau of Corrections is not a relocation site of the New Bilibid Prison contrary to the allegations of the adversaries,” he said.

Pursuant to the five-year development plan of BuCor, he said the subject property in Tanay, Rizal will be used as the BuCor headquarters, including residential uses for its personnel and employees and other land use development plans and policies of BuCor.

“I would like to reiterate that I wholeheartedly support the noble objective of the Masungi Georeserve Foundation and its geo park projects. I am a pro-environmentalist and would not oppose any plan of the foundation that would be geared towards the conservation of our ecosystem,” he said.

“However, I have also my avowed duty as the head of the Bureau of Corrections not only to safekeep all prisoners or persons who are deprived of liberty but also to safeguard their basic rights and ensure their reformation by creating an environment that would strengthen government capability that aimed towards the institutionalization of highly efficient and competent correction services…,” he added.

The Masungi Georeserve Foundation earlier raised its concerns after BuCor personnel visited the Georeserve last Feb. 16 to conduct an ocular inspection for the supposed relocation site of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Catapang said the land was “originally registered under the name of the Republic of the Philippines covered by original certificate of title No. 3556 issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal on March 29, 1963.”

He said the land became “the subject of Presidential Proclamation No. 1158 issued on September 8, 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which reserved the said 270 hectares of land as the new site of the New Bilibid Prison.”

He added that the Registry of Deeds of Morong, Rizal registered the title to the BuCor on Sept. 28, 2022 and later the Municipality of Tanay, Rizal issued a tax declaration denominated as TD NO. 18-TN-003-01994 under the name of the bureau. (PNA)