MANILA, Dec. 10, 2015— The Catholic Church’s prison ministry reiterated its appeal for President Benigno Aquino III to grant executive clemency to elderly and terminally ill prisoners in light of the celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Rodolfo Diamante of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care said their release will be a humanitarian act on Aquino’s part.
“Let us pray that Aquino will have compassion to the prisoners, especially to the visitorless, indigent, sick and old prisoners,” he said.
Diamante made the statement on Thursday as the church entered the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Aquino, whose term is ending in five months, has so far used granted executive clemency to 54 prisoners since the start of his administration in 2010.
It has been Malacañang’s tradition to pardon inmates during Christmas but the last time Aquino used his clemency power was in December 2012 when he ordered the release of eight elderly prisoners.
The bishops made the same appeal in January in line with Pope Francis’ visit theme “mercy and compassion” but no pardon was granted even after the historic event.
According to Diamante, there are about 85,000 inmates across the country with hundreds already recommended by the Board of Pardons and Parole for amnesty.
He said hese prisoners and their families have been enduring the effect of incarceration for several years, especially those who have been sick and are currently confined at the hospital.
“They (old and sick inmates) deserve to be united with their family. Give them a second chance,” he said. (R. Lagarde / CBCPNews)