MANILA, Oct. 13, 2014— For humanitarian reasons, the government should grant early releases to incapacitated and sick prisoners, officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines said.
The church said the Board of Pardons and Parole oversees 400 visitor-less, indigent, sick and old (VISO) inmates, yet has recommended only 40 cases for executive clemency.
Sadly, said Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC), the cases were ordered re-evaluated by President Benigno Aquino III.
Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, ECPPC chairman, said many of these inmates and their families have been enduring the effect of incarceration for several years, especially those who are ailing.
“Their families have exhausted all the resources available to them to finance their medical bills,” he said.
Tumulak said the prison ministry and its volunteers with its limited resources have provided support for their needs.
“More than this problem, the VISO prisoners are longing to be free. They have sought our help on this matter,” he said.
He also called on Aquino to finally grant the plea of the Board of Pardons and Parole for the 40 inmates as a “humanitarian act”.
The bishop made the appeal on Monday as the Church will mark the 27th Prison Awareness Week which coincides with the observance of National Correctional Consciousness Week from Oct. 20 to 26. (CBCPNews)