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MANILA, Philippines — Prisoners are humans entitled to rights, Senator Leila de Lima underscored on Monday as she lambasted the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) for its low resolution of petitions for detainees entitled to release from prison under a new law adjusting penalties for light offenses.
Just like the administration’s “sham drug war,” De Lima said this was a “mockery of our justice system.”
“Ano’ng ginagawa ni Atty. Persida Acosta at ng PAO sa kanilang mandato sa ilalim ng RA 10951? How could they sleep at night knowing that only two (2) out of 862 qualified prisoners have been released since the passage of said law a little over a year ago?” the detained senator said in a statement.
“Like the rest of us, prisoners are humans, who are entitled to fair treatment. Dapat silang bigyan ng pag-asa,” she added.
At the December 10 plenary debates on the budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies, it was revealed that around 862 inmates, who were already entitled to be released under Republic Act No. 10951 or the Revised Penal Code, were still in jail.
Senator Franklin Drilon denounced it as “criminal neglect.”
“They did not mind this because it involves prisoners. That’s the truth. They did not mind it at all,” he added.
READ: Drilon blames PAO for continued detention of inmates eligible for release / Drilon slams PAO over 862 still behind bars
De Lima also noted her Senate Bill No. 1879 or the Unified Corrections and Jail Management System Act of 2018, and SBN 2130 or the Prison Reform Act of 2018, stressing the need for “restorative justice in the laws concerning crime and punishment.”
The lawmaker also said, “Imprisonment is neither a license to have them languish in the dark forever, nor is it a death sentence.”
“Babalik sila sa ating lipunan balang araw. Nais ba natin na bumalik sila na nababalot ng poot at dilim at galit sa pagpapawalang-halaga sa kanilang karapatang pantao?” she added.
Drilon earlier revealed that since the passage of RA 10951 in August 2017, only two prisoners have been released.
PAO has so far filed 51 petitions – 39 with the Supreme Court and 12 with the regional trial courts – for the release of inmates, Drilon added.
The law aims to benefit inmates “who are mostly poor who have been convicted with inordinately long prison sentences and excessive fines for crimes which are in fact considered petty today” by adjusting the amount or the value of property and damage on which a penalty is based and the fines imposed under the Revised Penal Code. /cbb
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