Duterte urged to free old, sick prisoners

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Inmates pray at a chapel inside the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City. (Photo: CBCPNews)

MANILA, Oct. 17, 2016— Catholic bishops are calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to grant clemency to old and sick prisoners.

In a letter sent to Duterte Monday, the bishops’ prison ministry said many prisoners are longing to be free and have sought the Church’s help.

Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, who chairs the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said elderly inmates and their families have been enduring the effect of incarceration for several years, especially the sick ones.

“Therefore, we would like to appeal to His Excellency to grant their plea for executive clemency,” said the prelate.

The appeal for “compassionate release” of deserving prisoners was made ahead of the Church’s Prison Awareness Week, which coincides with National Correctional Consciousness Week on Oct. 24 to 30.

The Church will also celebrate the Jubilee of Prisoners from Nov. 5 to 6.

The Board of Pardons and Parole has already recommended the release of hundreds of inmates, many of them with ages ranging from 75 to 90 in seven national prisons under the Bureau of Corrections.

Tumulak, who also heads the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, also urged Duterte to stop the government’s construction of a Php50-billion mega prison project.

The plan aims to transfer the National Bilibid Prison from Muntinlupa City to Laur, Nueva Ecija to decongest and modernize the national penitentiary.

The prelate said there are more “practical solutions” to decongest NBP like for example, transferring the excess prison population to penal establishments in the countryside.

“We appeal that your office revisit this plan and study it,” said Tumulak, further asking Duterte “not to waste 50 billion pesos of the taxpayers’ money for a facility.” (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

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