MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) committed to assess at least 100 convicts per week for early releases based on the relaxed application for parole and clemency, Malacañang reported to Congress on Monday, May 4.
“The prison records of an initial batch of 200 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) are now being reviewed pursuant to the Interim Rules, and at least 100 PDLs will be deliberated by the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) on a weekly basis,” said Malacañang.
The BPP is under the DOJ.
Under the relaxed rules, which will take effect May 15, most of the documentary requirements are waived, and the age of sickly prisoners who may avail of executive clemency was lowered from 70 to 65.
The relaxed rules, however, exclude heinous crime convicts. The rules are also only in effect while there is a state of public health emergency.
There have been 50 convicts so far who have tested positive for the coronavirus, 3 of whom have died. (READ: Concern over deaths in Bilibid mounts in the face of the pandemic)
More inmates could be freed under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, but the grants have been affected by a revision of the rules. Although the DOJ claims GCTA grants are continuing, it has not provided concrete data as to how many.
Malacañang added that the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), which is also under the DOJ, reported to have filed pleadings on behalf of 1,359 prisoners on trial for their early releases.
The PAO’s action was based on the April 20 circular of the Supreme Court (SC) which reiterated a 2014 guideline that prisoners whose cases are unmoving due to unavailable witnesses, and prisoners who have been detained longer than their minimum penalty, shall be provisionally released.
The SC circular also allowed judges a motu proprio review of prisoners’ cases, or to open these cases on their own without a need for a pleading to be filed. – Rappler.com