Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nogales lauded the efforts of the country’s jail managers to decongest overcrowded jails in a bid to contain the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, with close to 22,000 inmates released so far.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) announced earlier that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) released 21,858 persons deprived of liberty from March 17 to July 13 in its 470 jail facilities nationwide.

The DILG added that there are currently 180 active COVID-19 cases in the facilities run by the BJMP, 126 of whom are PDLS, in addition to 54 BJMP personnel. Eight hundred ninety-five PDLs and jail personnel have recovered, while 11 have died from the disease.

So far, 409 elderly PDLs have been released.

Nograles said he lauds “the efforts of the BJMP and DILG to decongest our country’s prisons. Even as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, it is of paramount importance that we address the issue of our congested jails.”

“Kung hindi inaksyunan, we might be dealing with a far worse situation than the one we are already facing,” the neophyte lawmaker said.

Nograles, a Harvard-trained lawyer, had earlier called for the release of PDLs who are most at risk of infection, including the elderly and sick.

So far, 409 elderly PDLs have been released. 621 sick inmates, as well as 24 who were pregnant, have also been set free.

The solon also welcomed a recent Supreme Court order to all trial court judges in the country to suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BJMP-run jails.

Suspected criminal offenders will instead be detained in detention facilities of the Philippine National Police from July 22 until August 31, unless extended by the high court.

“Mahalagang nagtutulungan tayo na mabawasan ang pagkalat ng COVID-19,” Nograles said.

Nograles, a legal aid advocate, also promised to step up efforts to enable PDLs to avail of legal services through the “e-dalaw” initiative, a joint project between Lakbay Hustisya Foundation and the BJMP.

“We are working to provide more computers to our jails to ensure that more inmates get to communicate with their lawyers.”

Nograles is the founder of Lakbay Hustisya Foundation, a legal aid trust fund organized to support legal aid activities around the Philippines.

The foundation has donated forty computers to remote and highly congested jails all over the country.

“We are working to provide more computers to our jails to ensure that more inmates get to communicate with their lawyers. Kailangang siguruhin na gumagalaw pa rin gulong ng hustisya kahit sa panahon na ito,” Nograles said.

“Gumagawa tayo ng mga hakbang, sa pakikipag-ugnayan natin sa BJMP, para masigurong makakapanayam pa rin ng ating mga PDL ang kanilang mga abogado kahit suspended ang visitation rights,” said Nograles.


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