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Duterte: 129 indigent detainees released amid COVID-19 pandemic

The government has already released 129 indigent detainees amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte told Congress on Monday.

The releases as of May 6 were in line with the Supreme Court circular allowing reduced bail and release on own recognizance as modes of release for indigent detainees during the public health emergency.

In the circular, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said the development was in consideration of the "urgent need to further decongest our detention facilities, especially during this time of public health emergency" and "to promote social and restorative justice."

Duterte also reported that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has provided paralegal assistance to persons deprived of liberty, which resulted in the “expedited release” of 4,188 prisoners from March 17 to April 30.

For its part, the Department of Justice directed the officials and personnel of the Board of Pardons and Parole to hold meetings through video conference to ensure a quick yet full review of applications for executive clemency.

As of May 5, Duterte said 222 of the 469 BJMP jails nationwide have designated isolation areas for newly committed PDLs and those suspected of having COVID-19.

Two quarantine facilities (New Bilibid Prison, Correctional Institution for Women) have been set up while the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has hired two doctors and 17 nurses to assist in the efforts to curb the spread of the disease in its prison facilities.

The BuCor is also implementing e-dalaw in which inmates will be able to communicate with their families and lawyers through video conferences. -NB, GMA News