By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

GOOD CONDUCT.  Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Director Ruel Rivera (left) says that around 3,000 to 5,000 persons deprived of liberty are likely to be released this month during a news forum in Quezon City Saturday (Dec. 2, 2023). The inmates will be released based on the Good Conduct Time Allowance.  (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said Saturday that around 3,000 to 5,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) are likely to be released this month under the granting of full Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).

Marami hong lalaya ngayong kapaskuhan (Many will be released this Christmas season),” BJMP Director Ruel Rivera said during a news forum in Quezon City.

“More or less, makakapagpalaya po kami ngayon ng mga (we can release now about) 3,000 to 5,000 [PDL this] December”.

Rivera said the PDL release is in accordance with the GCTA, a sentence reduction provision for inmates who show good behavior.

He said the BJMP is scheduled to sign an agreement with the Department of Labor and Employment to help PDL find jobs after getting out of jail.

The bureau also partnered with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to offer courses that will provide ex-convicts with “employable skills.”

Citing BJMP records, Rivera said around 74,000 PDL have been released from January to October this year.

In a Palace press briefing Friday, Department of Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano said “close to 1,000” PDL may be eligible for presidential grant of pardon and executive clemency.

Bail reduction

The release of PDL is part of efforts to address overcrowding in jails.

Clavano noted that 70 percent of BJMP detention facilities are “overcrowded at an average rate of 386 percent,” with the Quezon City male dormitory having the “highest” congestion rate of 1,330 percent.

He added that the BJMP facilities for female PDL are more overcrowded than facilities for male.

Another initiative is the Inmate Management Information System, a nationwide comprehensive case monitoring and information system that tracks the progress of cases. It connects all Parole and Probation Administration regional offices, 224 field offices and the central office.

According to Rivera, the BJMP designates paralegal officers in every jail to coordinate with the courts and speed up the resolution of cases.

A National Jail Decongestion Summit will be held on Dec. 6 and 7 in Manila to address jail congestion.

The summit aims to discuss three strategies to decongest jails — reducing admissions, increasing releases by legal means, and expanding capacity of jail facilities.

Sandiganbayan Associate Karl Miranda, who joined Rivera in the weekly forum, stressed the need to come up with a “whole-of-government” approach in addressing overcrowding in jails.

“What the justice sector aims to do is to come together to coordinate and address common problems faced by the justice sector agencies. Ang end-goal po nito (Its end-goal) is to speed up the delivery of swift and fair justice,” Miranda said.

Miranda said one of the proposals to reduce congestion is to make bail more affordable to indigents.

“So, there’s a DOJ order saying that the bail to be recommended must be reduced by at least 50 percent for indigents or PHP10,000, whichever is lower,” Miranda said. (PNA)