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QC to fast track hearings to decongest jails

Nov 17, 2017 | Deaths, Prisoners

In this Oct. 18, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the inmates during his visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. PPD/Robinson Niñal

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City will expedite hearings for petty crimes to reduce the population of inmates as part of the jail decongestion program.

Quezon City Jail Warden Superintendent Ermilito Moral said that more than 500 inmates will regain their freedom.

Moral said they wanted to help detainees who were convicted because of petty cases, noting their hearings were usually postponed.

The hearings for petty cases will be held at Regional Trial Courts and Metropolitan Trial Courts in the city.

A riot broke out in Quezon City Jail early November when a fight ensued between two prison gangs, leading to the death of one inmate.

Quezon City Jail, one of the most congested jail facilities in the country, was built to house only about 800 inmates. But at present, it is crammed with more than 3,000 detainees.

A piece of land in Payatas will be donated to the BJMP for the construction of  new jail facility that can accommodate 6,000 to 8,000 inmates.

‘Degrading’ prison conditions

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology last October 18, he described the conditions of prisons as “okay.”

“The situation is okay. They [prisoners] are comfortable, clean. I’m satisfied by the way it is being run by the BJMP,” the chief executive said.

 

But human rights group Karapatan belied Duterte’s impressions, saying jails in the country are “inhuman and degrading.”

Duterte’s assessment of prisons was also in contrast to the report of the Commission on Audit released in June, which painted the dire situation of the country’s detention facilities.

According to COA, the country’s jails are already overpopulated by 511 percent as the number of inmates ballooned to 126,946 as of the end of 2016.

It has already exceeded the ideal total jail capacity, which remains at 20,746 inmates.

In April, former BJMP director Serafin Barretto admitted that the jail facilities in the country can be considered as the most congested in the world.

The overcrowding of jails is mainly attributed to the increase in the number of drug-related cases in the country as well as the slow or non-action of courts on pending cases.

By Gaea Katreena Cabico

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