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Saturday, July 13, 2024

126 prisoners regain freedom on Independence Day

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Independence Day could not be more meaningful for 126 prisoners who regained their freedom as the country celebrated yesterday its 126th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence.

In a ceremony organized by the Department of Justice (DOJ)and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the 126 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) received their release papers.

DOJ Undersecretary Margarita Gutierrez and BuCor director general Gregorio Catapang, Jr. led the ceremony for the release of the inmates.

Themed as “Mga Repormasyong Binigay, Natutuna’y Kaalaman Tungo sa Pagbabagong Buhay”, the activity aimed to honor the resilience and reformation of the PDLs in the “face of adversity in preparation for their reintegration into society.”

According to Gutierrez, the event also seeks to serve as a constant reminder to other prisoners that there is a second shot at life after positive transformation of oneself.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla lauded Catapang for the “very timely initiative to join the nation’s observance of the Philippine Independence through significant projects that will be highly beneficial to society.”

“My sincerest appreciation to the hard work and dedication of Director Catapang for always making a positive impact to our corrections system,” Remulla said.

“You overcame the challenges and obstacles to become the better person you are today, may you continue to let your light shine as you embrace life outside prison to serve as an inspiration for the positive transformation of others,” Remulla said in his message to the newly released PDLs,

Meanwhile, the Public Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Ateneo Legal Services Center (ALSC), offered free legal services to the PDLs at the New Bilibid Prisons.

In conjunction with the celebration of Independence Day, a legal aid caravan was held in the various prison facilities and penal farms nationwide, namely, San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm (SRPPF), Iwahig PPF, Sablayan PPF, Davao PPF, Leyte Regional Prison Farm (LRPF) and the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City.

Lawyers from PAO were deployed in the different prison farms to extend free legal services to the PDLs which include legal advice/consultation, legal representation and referral to PAO offices. Rey Requejo

Remulla acknowledged the efforts of the PAO lawyers, as well as the private partners for their “unwavering commitment to ensuring access to justice and to protecting the rights and welfare of the Filipino people especially the disadvantaged.”

The free legal aid was part of the Katarungan Caravan which kicked-off on last June 3 in Marawi City under the supervision of Undersecretary Gutierrez.

DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco, for his part, spearheaded the free legal aid program at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW), benefitting 100-150 female prisoners as a culminating activity of the DOJ for Independence Day.

In partnership with the PAO and the Arellano University School of Law (AUSL), the event aims to cater frontline legal services to women PDLs, ensuring that they have fair and convenient access to competent legal representation despite incarceration or lack of financial capacity.

Services given during the activity were the rendering of legal advice, case referral to PAO main office and channelling of matters intended for other government agencies.

“As we celebrate the sanctity of our hard-earned freedom, it is essential that we take into consideration our collective responsibility to uphold not just the Rule of Law but the rights and dignity of our fellow Filipinos under reformation behind bars.” Remulla stressed.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline: “DOJ, BuCor release 126 prisoners, provide free legal aid on Independence Day”

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