MANILA – Malacañang said Wednesday the government is speeding up the processing of qualified convicts’ applications for probation and parole to decongest jails after several inmates have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance after the Department of Justice (DOJ) approved new and simplified rules for probation and parole.
“I heard from the mouth of (DOJ Secretary Menardo) Guevarra himself that they are expediting already the processing of individuals who may qualify for probation and parole to decongest our detention facilities,” Roque said in an interview with ANC.
Guevarra on April 15 approved the interim rules on parole and executive clemency.
The rules were simplified following mounting calls for the release of sick and elderly inmates who are facing the threat of the fast-spreading disease in the country’s crammed prisons.
Under the Interim Rules on Parole and Executive Clemency, inmates aged 65 and above can apply for executive clemency if they have either served at least five years of their sentence or their continued imprisonment is “inimical to their health.”
“There are requirements, but the order has been given to expedite the processing of those who may qualify for probation and parole,” Roque said.
A total of 195 prisoners nationwide have tested positive for Covid-19, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) bared on Tuesday.
The BJMP noted that the highest number of Covid-19 cases was recorded in Cebu City, which was at 185. It was followed by the Quezon City Jail and Mandaue City Jail, with nine cases and one case, respectively.
Two inmates of the Correctional Institution for Women have also died after catching Covid-19, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) confirmed on Tuesday.
Roque said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has also set up isolation facilities for detainees who have been infected with Covid-19 while awaiting or undergoing trial.
He acknowledged that the DILG has “very limited” options because the detainees under its supervision “are under the jurisdiction of the courts.”
“Those that are still awaiting trial are under the DILG. As far as those awaiting trial or undergoing trial are concerned, the DILG has set up isolation places for those afflicted with Covid-19,” Roque said. (PNA)