President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday assured Congress of continued processing of applications for parole and executive clemency amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several groups have called for the release of prisoners and detainees whose age and underlying medical conditions make them vulnerable to the virus, prompting the government to simplify the requirements and process for early releases.
The Board of Pardons and Parole’s (BPP) new interim guidelines apply to those qualified for parole or executive clemency, as well as applicants who are over 65 years old and have served at least five years of their sentence, or those who imprisonment is “inimical to their health,” as attested by a physician certified by the Department of Health or designated by the Malacañang clinic director.
Elderly and sickly inmates and those suffering from terminal or life-threatening diseases or with serious disability will be prioritized under the interim guidelines which will take effect on May 15.
In his report, Duterte said the prison records of an initial batch of 200 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) were being assessed and at least 100 PDLs will be deliberated by the BPP on a weekly basis.
He also said the BPP and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) have started to compile prison records and documents of PDLs who may benefit from the new rules.
The Public Attorney’s Office has also started filing the necessary motions and pleadings aimed at securing the immediate liberty of PDLs, including motions to fix and/or reduce bail, motions for release on recognizance, motions to dismiss, and motions for the immediate release of 1,359 PDLs.
Duterte also reported that the Department of Health (DOH) would supply the Department of Justice (DOJ) with an additional 10,000 kits to test PDLs, 3,500 of which would be used to test inmates at the Correctional Institute for Women where the highest number of confirmed cases (48) had been recorded