Tuesday 4 August 2020
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rappler - 27 days ago

Over 43,000 prisoners released via videoconference hearings since March

MANILA, Philippines – At least 43,171 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have been released since March through videoconference hearings held amid the coronavirus pandemic. Court Administrator Midas Marquez said in a report to Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta that these PDLs were released from March 17 to July 3 after hearings on bail or on their recognizance. The figure, which also included children in conflict with the law, involved those who have served the minimum period of their prison sentence. Below is the breakdown of released PDLs per region as of July 3: National Capital Region - 8,909 Ilocos Region - 3,621 Cagayan Valley - 1,796 Central Luzon - 6,203 Calabarzon - 7,443 Bicol Region - 1,192 Western Visayas - 1,431 Central Visayas - 4,528 Eastern Visayas - 1,183 Zamboanga Peninsula - 1,158 Northern Mindanao - 2,537 Davao Region - 2,168 Soccsksargen - 1,002 The SC allowed hearings through videoconferences to resolve pending cases and todecongest jails during the coronavirus pandemic. Videoconference hearings are authorized while there is a state of public health emergency, or even after, until the Supreme Court lifts it. More than 1,500 trial courts have been allowed to conduct proceedings through videoconferencing. On April 8, 22 prisoners filed a petition asking the SC to release them on humanitarian grounds. Solicitor General Jose Calida, however, asked the High Court to dismiss the petition, saying that congestion in prison facilities is not among the grounds to release inmates. A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism showed the dire conditions of inmates living in congested jails in the middle of a raging pandemic. The SC on June 23 deferred making a decision on the petition. – Rappler.com

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