MANILA, Philippines – Fifteen detainees facing trial have been in jail for a period far longer than the time they would have spent had they been convicted, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said Wednesday, July 3.
Roxas said the status of the 15 was one of the issues he discussed with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima during their meeting at the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC).
“Nililitis ang kanilang kaso, pero sa dami ng mga postponement [and] rescheduling ay higit na ung panahon kesa kung masentensyahan sila doon sa ano mang nililitis para sa kanila,” Roxas explained. (Their cases have been heard but because of postponement [and] rescheduling, the [trial period] has proven to be longer than the time they would have spent serving their sentences.)
Roxas said he told Sereno about the 15 inmates whose cases have yet to be decided on.
Supreme Court spokesperson Therodore Te said the 3 heads discussed a wide range of issues affecting the justice sector including jail and case decongestion. He added this is the first time the JSCC met since 2011.
Te said the meeting tackled the problem of overstaying detainees and ways to automate court processes.
“There were very concrete discussions and solutions presented and they were happy and satisfied. The meeting ended with an executive session so I’m not privy to what was discussed,” Te said.
Roxas said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DILG would be working with Sereno and De Lima to ease case decongestion around the country.
Roxas added he plans to conduct another census in the remaining provincial and municipal jails that are still not part of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) system.
Last month, the Supreme Court conducted marathon hearings dubbed as “Judgment Day” in a bid to sort out cases ripe for dismissal and thus decongest the jails. – Rappler.com