Some 300 to 500 prisoners, also called persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) may yet have a very merry Christmas with their freedom regained.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Wednesday said it intends to set free even as many as 700 inmates before 2022 ends in connection with the jail decongestion program of the government.
BuCor officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang, Jr. said the government also eyes the transfer of some 3,000 PDLs from the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City by next year when they finalize the tripartite agreement with the Department of Justice, the Department of Health, and the Department of National Defense.
At a public briefing, Catapang said some 300 to 1,000 prisoners qualified for parole or clemency may also be released following completion of pertinent documents.
The bureau will also recommend issuing executive clemency to elderly
individuals in prison or those aged between 60 and 70, he disclosed.
“There’s a law saying when you are 70 years old and above, you can apply for parole or executive clemency. So we are planning to apply it to our PDLs who are 65 to 70 years old and above,” Catapang said.
According to him, all penal facilities including the NBP are currently “super congested.”
He also revealed that the government has released P300 million for the construction of new buildings to decongest existing ones.
Catapang said the buildings being constructed can hold 1,000 to 1,500 PDLs.
“So if you add the three colonies that were given P300 million to construct new buildings, more or less that’s 4,000 inmates from NBP that may be transferred.”
The remains of some 70 PDLs are also set to be buried on Friday, according to Catapang.
Meanwhile, he declined to comment on an observation by former Justice Secretary-now Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra that full control of BuCor
should be returned to the Department of Justice.
“Wala po ako comment doon kasi high-rank po yan. Sumusunod lang po ako kung anong kautusan. For now, ang utos sa akin ni SOJ (Secretary of Justice), decongest, segregate, and then implement reforms sa BuCor,” he said.