Department of Justice

DOJ lowers recommended bail in criminal cases involving indigents

Jairo Bolledo

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DOJ lowers recommended bail in criminal cases involving indigents

JUSTICE. The logo of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Jire Carreon/Rappler

The order cuts to half the bail recommended by prosecutors for indigents – and makes P10,000 the bail cap for poor litigants

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has ordered prosecutors to lower the recommended bail in certain criminal cases involving indigents.

“In true reformist form, Section 4 of Department Circular No. 011 states that after the prosecutor conducts inquest or preliminary investigation proceedings and he or she finds probable cause with a reasonable certainty of conviction against the indigent respondent, the prosecutor shall indicate in the criminal information ONLY FIFTY PERCENT (50%) of the recommended bail as stated in the 2018 Bail Bond Guide, or the amount of TEN THOUSAND PESOS, WHICHEVER IS LOWER,” the DOJ said in a briefer dated February 20.

The order effectively cuts to half any bail amount that will be recommended by prosecutors for indigents under the 2018 New Bail Bond Guide. In addition, Department Circular No. 11, signed by Remulla, also sets at P10,000 the bail cap for indigent respondents.

Under the current bail bond guide, the recommended bail varies and is based on the offenses. For example, in violations of special laws, bail is computed based on the number of years of penalty in its maximum period, multiplied by P6,000. Meanwhile, for cases punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, no bail should be recommended.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano, in a message to reporters, said the memorandum took effect immediately. The memorandum applies to all cases “undergoing inquest or preliminary investigation proceedings of indigents if they do not include crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment.”

In the briefer, the justice department said the Justice Sector Coordinating Council held a meeting on January 27, where the issue of jail congestion was brought up – specifically, the 330% congestion rate of the New Bilibid Prison. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines’ perennial problem on jail congestion)

DOJ lowers recommended bail in criminal cases involving indigents

Aside from the guidelines on the recommended bail, the DOJ order also states that prosecutors should ask the respondent at the start of the inquest or preliminary investigation if he/she is indigent. If a respondent says he/she is indigent, proof should be presented.

This only applies to respondents who are not habitual delinquents or recidivists, according to the DOJ memo. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.