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LAKBAY HUSTISYA TO TRAIN BJMP PARALEGALS

Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles announced that a legal aid group he is heading had inked an agreement with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to conduct a national training program for its paralegal personnel to aid efforts to decongest the country’s overcrowded prisons, which now have a congestion rate of almost 400%.

Nograles, founder and president of Lakbay Hustisya Foundation, Inc., last week signed a memorandum of agreement with the BJMP for capacity-building of more than 100 paralegal officers nationwide.

Nograles, a Harvard-trained lawyer, bemoaned that many PDLs have been languishing in prison for years for minor offenses because of lack of access to legal aid.

“Sa pamamagitan ng ating national paralegal training, nais po nating tulungan ang ating mga jail paralegals na paigtingin ang kanilang serbisyong legal sa ating mga PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) upang mapabilis ang kanilang karapat-dapat na paglaya sa ating mga nagsisikipang mga kulungan,” Nograles said.

The move is aimed at making BJMP’s paralegal staff more capable in handling the cases of persons deprived of liberty who have no access to lawyers.

Through the training program, Nograles hopes that paralegal staff would actively contribute in decongesting the country’s overcrowded jails.

“Bagamat kulang ang mga abogado, umaasa po tayo na ang mga jail paralegals ang ating mga magiging katuwang sa paghatid ng hustisya sa ating mga PDLs,” the solon said.

The country has been perennially plagued by the issue of overcrowded jails, with a congestion rate of 397 percent in 2021 according to BJMP data.

“Ang ibig sabihin nito, kung ang isang detention facility is designed to hold 100 prisoners, ang realidad ay mga 400 na PDLs ang nakakulong. Ang masakit dito, marami naman sa kanila ay hindi pa convicted. Hindi po ito makatarungan; it is unjust and inhumane,” lamented the lawmaker.

The country has been perennially plagued by the issue of overcrowded jails, with  a congestion rate of 397 percent in 2021 according to BJMP data.

Nograles, a Harvard-trained lawyer, bemoaned that many PDLs have been languishing in prison for years for minor offenses because of lack of access to legal aid.

“Sa katunayan, marami sa ating mga PDLs ay mahigit 10 taon na naghihintay sa pagdinig ng isang kaso na may kaparusahan na 1 taon lamang,” he said.

Lakbay Hustisya also has an existing partnership with the BJMP to help implement its “e-dalaw” system by donating computers to remote and congested jails across the country.

The group has so far donated around 70 computers to PDLs currently in our nation’s detention facilities.

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