Davao City—Local volunteer-lawyers are giving female inmates new ray of hope by helping them apply for plea bargaining to secure their early release.
On Sunday, volunteer-lawyers, accompanied by psychologists and medical practitioners, visited the Ray of Hope Village—a jail facility for female inmates inside the Davao City Jail—to offer free legal and medical services.
Lawyer Jaja Buenaventura, who organized the activity, said she and her friends pooled their resources after seeing the need to help women inmates who have otherwise been released if not for the lack of proper legal assistance.
During the one-day activity alone, Buenaventura’s group managed to assist 16 inmates in their plea bargaining application.
One of these is Gay (not her real name), who was arrested in an illegal drugs operation three years ago but whose case has not moved in the courts since.
Gay, who said she has not been visited by any of her friends or family members since her incarceration, wanted to plea bargain to shorten her trial and be released so she can start a new life.
Jail Officer 1 Mary Karle Chua said if Gay’s plea bargaining is granted, she would be released and would only need to report regularly either in court or at the Department of Health because she tested positive for drug use.
Since it was offered in October, Chua said there were already about a hundred inmates inside the facility who have been released through plea bargaining system.
Chua said allowing the inmates to cut a deal with prosecutors helps in decongesting the jail.
Currently, the city jail’s female dorm has a current population of 489, and 90 percent of them are facing drug cases. PNA
Another inmate, Ruby Mahusay, said the free legal assistance helped her plot her legal options.
“We are very happy they decided to come, especially the doctors,” said Mahusay, who is facing homicide charges.
Chief Insp. Milgrace Driz, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Davao, lauded Buenaventura’s group for holding the legal and medical services every year.
“Many inmates availed of the services during the activity, including free medicines,” said Driz, who also attended Buenaventura’s group as a volunteer.