The government has formally released more than 230 inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City and other operating prisons and penal farms under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the 234 were the fourth batch of inmates to be released from prison since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed power in July.
“This is the fourth time that we are releasing PDLs or persons deprived of liberty. I hope this is the last time that I would see you here in Bilibid so better put your life in order,” Remulla said in his speech during the ceremony at the national penitentiary.
BuCor data showed that of the newly-released inmates, 128 came from NBP, 47 from the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, 16 from San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City, 21 from the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, 12 from Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, three from Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, and seven from the Leyte Sub-Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte.
Of the 234, the data showed 106 were released on parole, 104 have already completed their maximum sentence with Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA), and 12 were acquitted.
For the 128 inmates from the NBP, eight were acquitted, 45 served their maximum sentence with GCTA, while 71 were released on parole.
Remulla said he is eyeing the release of around 5, 000 inmates by June 2023 as part of the BuCor’s prison decongestion policy.
“By June 30, 2023, I want at least 5, 000 na mapakawalan natin based on the work we do on a daily basis based on the carpetas that are there,” the Justice Secretary said, adding he asked the BuCor to speed up the processing of the inmates’ carpetas or records.
Earlier, Remulla said more than 2, 000 carpetas were delivered for review in the first 100 days of the Marcos administration. Another 318 names have been submitted to Malacanang for executive clemency through various methods of acts of the President such as parole, pardon or commutation of sentence.
However, Remulla said the number could go as high as 600. “I think we might arrive at 600 clemencies already by the time December comes in,’ he said, adding he will talk to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin the first week of December to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, Remulla said the DOJ is studying the possible “supervised release’ of inmates 65 years old and above as part of its policy to decongest the penal colonies under the supervision of the BuCor.
Remulla disclosed the matter in his speech during the release of 234 inmates in the NBP in Muntinlupa City.
“We are studying the possible supervised release of inmates 65 years old and above, expect those who are newly incarcerated,” Remulla said.
“The crimes rate committed by 65 and above is so low that’s why we are studying the possibility of supervised release,” he added.
Aside from this, Remulla said those who are convicted of sexual offenses will not be included if the program pushes through. “Most of the newly incarcerated are convicted of sexual offenses and it is difficult to include them as they can be considered a menace to society,” he said.
Remulla also said his wish is to have no more centralized or mega-prison like the national penitentiary by the end of the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as he reiterated his vow to build regional prisons.
“My ambition is that by 2028 we will no longer be here in Muntinlupa. I hope we could build prisons in different parts of the country that are accessible to families of those who are convicted and sentenced by the court,” he said.
Last month, the DOJ chief said the government might be able to build regional prisons within the next three to four years as part of the effort to reform the country’s prison system.
Earlier, Remulla said they are planning to transfer the NBP’s maximum security prison to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, the medium-security prison to Tanay, Rizal, and the minimum security prison to Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.
Remulla said once their plan to transfer the national penitentiary to the provinces is completed, the NBP complex will be developed into a government center.
As of October this year, BuCor data showed NBP has a total inmate population of 29, 204, though it had an intended capacity of only 6, 345 when it was constructed in 1940.