Tag Archives: Prison

[Off-the-shelf] BUILDING OUR RESPONSE ON COVID-19 AND DETENTION -OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations

OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations

This brief intends to provide evidence-based support and good practices for the protection of one of the most vulnerable groups of individuals affected by the COVID-19 outbreak: those deprived of liberty. It is addressed to members of the global SOS -Torture Network but may be used by any organization acting on people in custody.

It aims to inform advocacy, legal actions, other forms of support or dialogue with authorities, detention or penitentiary services, the media or the public on the protection of detainees in the present crisis. It focuses on the situation of those behind bars, detained and deprived of liberty. It also addresses the emerging issue of ill-treatment and criminalization of those breaking confinement rules.

The document is built on experiences of SOS-Torture Network members and core partner organizations of the OMCT, who act to protect detainees, seek their release, provide
physical and mental protection, legal support or mitigate the impact on the confinement, and who monitor human rights violations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope that this information can help and encourage others who are facing similar challenges, as both the virus and confinement response are spreading further from
country to country and from region to region.

The brief is not a collection of legal human rights standards, though it is informed by law. It is focused on those formally deprived of liberty while recognizing that there may
be other situations requiring similar actions, such as those in migration camps. It is in no way an exhaustive list of all relevant detention issues and does not cover all detention realities, which often differ even within the same country. Instead, the note touches on key items that have been at the forefront of SOS-Torture Network advocacy. More detailed policy papers and recommendations by international partners are annexed.

OMCT Guidance brief to the SOS-Torture Network and partner organizations omct_covid19_prisonsresponse_en


Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address, and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos, etc.

[People] Temporary relief for Filipino Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) during the CoViD-19 Crisis – by Prof. Raymund Narag

Photo by Jean-Paul Caelen

The Philippine government placed the entire Metro Manila under “Enhanced Community Quarantine.” The Philippine Supreme Court issued a circular suspending all court hearings. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has suspended all jail visitations nationwide. These are all pre-emptive steps to slow down the spread of the CoViD-19 virus that infected hundreds of people in the Philippines and hundreds of thousands worldwide.

Indeed, one of the most susceptible areas to the spread of the virus is the jails and prisons. With an overcrowding rate of 350%, the Philippines has the most congested correctional system in the world. If one of the PDLs gets infected in the congested jails, it could be a catastrophe. Our jail staff would be tremendously strained to handle the infection once it starts. Despite their best efforts and even in normal circumstances, they lack medical facilities and doctors to handle routine health problems. We have recently witnessed jail unrest in more resource-endowed jail and prison facilities in Italy and the USA. We are not sure what the outcome would be if similar unrest began in the Philippines correctional system.

Temporary relief could be the granting of medical furlough to the first time, low risk, non-violent, and bailable offenders for humanitarian considerations. PDLs who are charged with offenses such as gambling, theft of less than a thousand pesos, drug use, etc., especially those who are old (above 60 years old) and sickly, could be prioritized for release. These are PDLs that if with money and resources, could have bailed out, and could have been released. But, largely due to poverty, they are languishing in our jails while undergoing prolonged trials.

The BJMP could initiate the process by writing a letter to the Supreme Court on its assessment of the current jail health capacities. The Supreme Court-Office of Court Administrator could then utilize this as a basis for corrective action. A Supreme Court Circular could then be issued where the jail wardens nationwide would be able to identify first-time, low risk, non-violent, bailable offenders for release. The Public Attorney’s Office could also make a national pleading on behalf of all the PDLs, similar to what was done in other jurisdictions. The list could then be submitted to the respective judges, and the judges, using their sound discretion could release the PDLs on their own self-recognizance, or even on a “One-Peso Bail.” As a condition, the PDLs could provide a promise to appear on the court-appointed dates. The wardens would get their addresses and the contact information of their relatives for monitoring.

These low-risk PDLs are no threat to public safety. Releasing them would ease the over-congestion in our jails. This would give a better chance for our jail staff to concentrate their resources on recidivists, higher risk, violent and non-bailable offenders (who are also still presumed innocent). By keeping them all in jail at the moment places them in a susceptible condition to acquire the CoViD-19 virus. In our over-congested jail, this will be tantamount to a death sentence. Releasing low risk, first time, non-violent bailable offenders under this medical furlough remedy could be our best chance to avert this incoming tragedy.

It is just a matter of time.

Raymund E. Narag, PhD
Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Clarke Jones, PhD
Australian National University

Photos were taken by Jean-Paul Caelen

Submit your contribution online through HRonlinePH@gmail.com
Include your full name, e-mail address and contact number.

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Aquino signs law to modernize prisons, professionalize corrections personnel -INQUIRER.net

Aquino signs law to modernize prisons, professionalize corrections personnel.

By Christine O. Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer

May 28, 2013


MANILA, Philippines — The government is now in position to institute reforms and better conditions in the country’s prisons now that President Benigno Aquino has signed a law that will modernize the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The reforms will include hiring more personnel to guard the country’s prisoners now numbering 37,232.

De Lima said President Aquino signed last May 24 Republic Act no. 10575 or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, a law designed to enable government to upgrade prison facilities, professionalize the bureau and increase the salary and benefits of its personnel.

“With the new law, we can now improve prison facilities, recruit more corrections officers, and implement more responsive reformation programs for inmates,” said De Lima, whose office released a copy of the new law to reporters.

Read full article @newsinfo.inquirer.net

Follow: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.


sign petiton2 smallPhoto by TFDP

[Featured Video] Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates by Baliklaya

Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.” (Frederick Langbridge)

The human spirit never loses its brilliance no matter what challenges it encounters. In the face of darkness, it shines even brighter with its light igniting the light of others.

“Liwanag sa Dilim” (roughly translated in English as “Light in Darkness”) is a creative representation of the daily life of inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.

We see how one prisoner’s optimistic outlook in life can spark change in all areas of Bilibid.

We witness the talents and skills that have been developed behind bars through rehabilitative endeavors in education, sports, small enterprises, arts and crafts.

The production of this video is in line with the 10th year celebration in prison service of Baliklaya, the only student-run prison service organization in the Philippines.


Baliklaya, a non-profit, non-political, student-run group, is an applying organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Before it became a full-pledged organization last 2009, it was the flagship program of Ateneo Lex, a separate accredited organization.


Baliklaya envisions the formation of a community composed of legally, economically, and socially-aware youth, engaged in alleviating the challenges of communities deprived of justice and fundamental human rights.


To steer its membership towards the task of nation building and to inculcate in them a strong desire for social commitment, the organization shall undertake projects which uplift the dignity, worth, and welfare of one of the most misconceived, marginalized, and impoverished sectors of Philippine society – the prisoners.


Baliklaya’s advocacy is prisoner rights, particularly that of the inmates inherent right to human dignity, realized through the organization’s various Bilibid-based prison service endeavors and intense advocacy campaign. While, in truth, any human being’s dignity can never be taken away (not by any court of justice or societal condemnation), inmates can’t help but feel a loss of dignity, because of their circumstances (the errors they have committed and the guilt that stems from such, as worsened by poor living conditions). Thus, by providing them venues for wellness development and opportunities for productivity, the organization empowers said inmates, with the hopes of restoring this lost sense of dignity.

Balik means to go back, laya is freedom. While the organization does not aim to literally free prisoners, it pursues a different sort of freedom, one that frees the prisoners from societal stereotypes and the feeling of lack of dignity.

Iboto ang iyong #HRPinduterosChoice para sa HR VIDEOS.

Ang botohan ay magsisimula ngayon hanggang sa 11:59 ng Nov 15, 2013.

Ikaw para kanino ka pipindot? Simple lang bumoto:
• pindutin ang inyong napupusuan sa poll button sa ibaba ng post na ito
• i-LIKE ang thumbnail/s ng iyong mga ibinoboto sa HRonlinePH facebook, i-share at
• Most number of the combined likes sa FB at sa poll buttons ang magiging 3rd HR Pinduteros
Choice na kikilalanin sa 2013 HR week celebration.

Makiisa sa pagpapalaganap ng impormasyon hinggil sa karapatang pantao. Pindot na!

WHAT IS 3RD HR PINDUTEROS CHOICE AWARDS? https://hronlineph.com/2013/10/01/3rd-human-rights-

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Blog] Takot ang mga Marzan gawin sa kanila ang ginawa nila sa kanilang katulong -www.ellentordesillas.com

Takot ang mga Marzan gawin sa kanila ang ginawa nila sa kanilang katulong

Takot na takot daw si Anna Liza Marzan, ang amo na nagplantsa ng mukha ng katulong nang dumating siya sa Quezon City jail dahil may sumigaw sa mga nakakulong doon, ““Handa na ang plantsa namin!”

Napanood kasi ng mga inmates sa Q.C jail ang balita nang pagmaltrato ni Marzan sa kanyang katulong na si Bonita Baran.

Sabi ng mga guwardiya sa QC jail na huwag daw matakot si Marzan dahil hindi raw nila pinapayagan ang plantsa sa kulungan.


Ano kaya ang dapat na parusa sa mag-asawang Reynold at Annaliza Marzan sa ginawa nila kay Baran? Nabulag si Baran sa sobrang pananakit ni Anna Liza.

Sa testimonya ni Baran sa Senado na isinasagawa ng Committee on Labor and Employment na ang chairman ay si Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, isinalaysay ni Baran ang mala-impyerno niyang kalagayan sa kamay ng mag-asawang Marzan.

“Anim na beses po akong pinalantsa ni Annaliza sa iba’t ibang panahon sa loob ng apat na taon kung pagtatrabaho sa kanila.Tinatakpan po niya ang bibig ko, kaya hindi ako makasigaw upang makahingi ng tulong sa aming kapitbahay,””

Read full article @ www.ellentordesillas.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Featured Site] Like and Share “Network Opposed to Lowering the Age of Criminal Responsibility” in Facebook

“Network Opposed to Lowering the Age of Criminal Responsibility


Campaign not to lower the age of criminal responsibility of Children in Conflict of the Law.

Visit, like and share https://www.facebook.com/NoToHouseBill6052

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Petition] Petition campaign to the Senators of the Philippines to reject any amendment to the existing Juvenile Justice Welfare bill RA 9344

Dear friends,

Preda has begun a petition campaign to the Senators of the Philippines to reject any amendment to the existing juvenile Justice Welfare bill RA 9344. The proposed amendment that has reached second reading in the lower house would put children as young as 12-years old on trial as criminals. The senate can ignore the matter or vote to leave it as it is and protect children from the horrors of jail where they suffer serious harm and are denied their human and children’s rights. At 12 year old they are in danger of being beaten and abused by other older inmates and even sexually abused when put in cells with adult criminals.

Please send an email of your own or use the sample below.

Many thanks

Fr. Shay Cullen

Dear Honorable Senators,

This is an appeal to you to please reject any attempt to amend the Juvenile Justice Welfare Bill RA 9344 which protects children from the brutality and dehumanizing conditions of jails. The law presently gives them protection and help by diversion and rehabilitation.

They ought not to be charged with crimes and put on trial at 12-years old. Children are led astray by adult criminals and parents and guardians neglecting the children.

The law should bring them to answer for their neglect of the children and the bad example they give, Each child is a child of God and has rights and dignity that must be respected .

The present Philippine law RA 9344 which was passed first by you honorable Senators is progressive and enlightened. Please do not allow it to be changed. Protect children at all times, especially from going to jail where they are being abused. They need protection and education.

With respect,


All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] BJMP Gears for Gender-responsive Jails -balayph.net

BJMP Gears for Gender-responsive Jails

May 23, 2012

Amid the bureau’s intensified efforts in ensuring utmost jail security nationwide, it stays focused on working for a gender-sensitive jail management. A workshop on gender issues affecting jail management shall convene 20 officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) today at Olongapo City. The event is sponsored by Balay Rehabilitation Center, Inc., a non-government organization and long-time partner of the BJMP in its programs for the inmates’ welfare and development.

“We are working on strengthening our officers’ awareness and responsiveness to gender issues confronting BJMP”, said Jail Senior Superintendent Nida Gacutan-Ramos, Director for Inmates’ Welfare and Development (IWD) and acting chair of the bureau’s Gender Awareness and Development (GAD) Focal Point.

Read full article @ balayph.net

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Recruiter jailed for detaining, mauling woman -Cebu Daily News

Recruiter jailed for detaining, mauling woman.

May 22, 2012

AN overseas job recruiter was sentenced yesterday by the court to six to 13 years in jail for detaining and mauling a woman inside his office for six hours.

Regional Trial Court Judge Soliver Peras of Branch 10 said Salvador Rosal was guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the charge of slight illegal detention.

Rosal’s lawyer Salvador Solima said he will contest the decision.

Buena Tariman complained that the recruiter detained her in his office along F. Ramos Street in Cebu City on July 3, 2010.

Rosal was the manager of Almustagbal International.

Tariman said Rosal refused to release the documents she asked for on behalf of her friend, who chose to drop her application for a job in Saudi Arabia.

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] CHR to probe reports on jail visit suspension -Cebu Daily News

CHR to probe reports on jail visit suspension
February 29, 2012

AN inquiry into the suspension of jail visits and delays in the delivery of food to inmates of the Cebu Provincial Rehabilitation and Detention Center (CPDRC) may be in the offing.

Primo Cadampog, supervising investigator of the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7), said three relatives of the inmates sought assistance from their office to look into the suspension.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia suspended jail visits and dance practices for the inmates after a near-riot last week.
Cadampog said the CHR-7 will have to coordinate with the Capitol, which has direct supervision over the CPDRC.
Arvin Odron, head of the CHR-7′s legal division, said the right to jail visitation is under the regulation of jail officials.

“If jail visitation has been regulated, that’s okay and reasonable,” Odron said.

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

[In the news] Rebel detainee’s brod not allowed to enter CPDRC – Cebu Daily News

Rebel detainee’s brod not allowed to enter CPDRC
January 29, 2012

 THE brother of a rebel detainee was prevented yesterday from visiting him in the Cebu provincial jail for lack of a permit from the governor’s office.
The restriction was denounced by family and colleagues of detainee Ramon Patriarca as a violation of his visitation rights.

Patriarca’s brother, Jesus, a retired policeman, tried to see his sibling in the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) but guards wouldn’t let him in because he didn’t show a permit from the office of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.

Jesus waited till past 3 p.m. but wasn’t granted permission.

Ramon, who is facing rebellion charges, said he has started a hunger strike to protest his sudden transfer from the Danao city jail, where he was detained for three years while his trial is going on.

The court ordered his transfer to a military stockade but Patriarca was temporarily placed in the CPDRC.

Read full article @ cebudailynews.wordpress.com

[In the news] Prisoners to work in military camps before release, says Aquino – GMA News

Prisoners to work in military camps before release, says Aquino.

January 27, 2012

 Prisoners whose jail term are about to end are now being moved to military camps a maintenance workers before they are finally released, President Benigno Aquino III said Friday.

Aquino noted the approach espouses the twin benefits of decongesting the New Bilibid Prison and serves as a half-way house to prepare inmates for a life outside prison walls.

Some prisoners will serve out their term at the Philippine Military Academy.

“Habang nababawasan nito ang pagsisiksikan sa mga selda, nagsisilbing lunsaran rin ito ng mga bilanggo upang maihanda sila sa mga hamon na kakaharapin nila sa kanilang paglaya,” the President said in a speech at the launching of the National Bureau of Corrections’ 2012 Road Map at the NBP in Muntinlupa City.

Opened in 1940, the NBP facility was designed to hold 8,700 prisoners. Its inmate population has since grown to 20,000.

“Ibig sabihin, ang seldang panlimang tao, nagiging labing-dalawa o labing-talo ang nagsisiksikan dito. Ang isang pirasong isda na sapat lang dapat na pananghalian ng isa, paghahatian pa ng tatlong magkakakosa,” Aquino noted.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[Isyung HR] It’s funnier for Mokongs in the Philippines

It’s funnier for Mokongs in the Philippines

The Mokong Perspective

 On the positive side, after the DOT released their “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign, It has effectively moved a good number of our netizens into action.  My fb friends on one side started having fun in participating by posting their contribution to promote the campaign.  On one side, others are having fun posting critical and sarcastic versions using the campaign in expressing their discontent.

We can’t deny, the campaign reached its objective on utilizing the online for its popularization, the fun way. It has effectively stirred debates and discussion. In its early stage it has and is serving its purpose satisfactorily.

It is too effective that we can’t also help but give our Mokong version. Kahit anong pigil nanggigigil ang aking mga mokong na daliri na pumindot at sumali.

Mokong Perspective welcomes “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign DOT effort.  Ngunit, subalit, datapwat mainam, while DOT may have done a good job on the aspects of boosting the promotion the Philippine tourism industry,  which is too early to judge, we can’t help but worry that just like other tourism campaigns, our government tend to ignore and cover –up the realities that are making it not too fun in the Philippines.

For mokong purposes, it will be more fun in the Philippines, if…

PNoy will start the year with a clear human rights action plan. It will be more fun if there will be resolutions for human rights violations cases, It’s really great fun breaking impunity.  It’s definitely fun to have a clear policy against mining. It’s fun to stop contractualization.  It’s fun in the Philippines if killings of journalists and human rights defenders will stop. It’s fun to have the FOI bill enacted, and many more…

The government must look into these issues or mokongs will have to post a counter proposal changing it into “It’s funnier in the Philippines!”


IMPUNITY, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Human Rights violators were getting awards instead of punishment.  In some cases they are now good in invoking their rights and fear for their lives.

Where rebels and activists were charged of common crimes and perpetrators of massacre charged of rebellion.

GREED, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Large scale mining companies, illegal loggers and business tycoons washed their hands from disasters and contractualizations and blamed it to Filipinos. So it’s more fun to mine Philippines.

Government agencies like the MGB and DOLE became spokespersons for businesses.

Thousands of workers not heard.

Salaries are lower, unions are busted.

DEMOCRACY, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

There are more than 300 political prisoners languishing in jails.

Corrupt politicians get elected.

JUSTICE SYSTEM, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Thousands waited in detention for years for verdict on crimes charged to them.  Government claims that our detention facilities are not ready for international scrutiny.

Where foreigners charged of rape and other crimes, the powerful and rich were exempted from suffering congestion and harsh conditions of jails.

ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCE, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

For a nation known for its victory against dictatorship and tyranny, for more than a decade now, our policy makers failed to enact an anti-enforced disappearance law.

TORTURE, It’s funnier in the Philippines!

Suspected perpetrators of torture were transferred and given new assignments somewhere else while victims seemed being punished for getting the burden of proof on their shoulders.

A policeman charged of torture was allowed to teach in a police academy.


These are just few among the so many possible reasons why we can definitely attract tourist and boost foreign investments.  It’s funnier here.

If you don’t find this article funny, that’s the point.

[Blogger] Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails – sdkonline.wordpress.com

Youth must be sent to schools rather than in jails

Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) strongly opposed the proposal of some legislators to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. The current minimum age is 15 years old under the Juvenile Justice Act.  The said proposal is a mere blame game on the government’s failure to address the problem of increasing numbers of children involved in crimes.

Violation of the Child’s Rights

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC), a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years of age.  The indicated age should enjoy his/her right to be free from any criminal responsibility (e.g. capital punishment, life imprisonment etc.) It is very clear that our government would be violating the said international convention of which we are a signatory if the said proposal will be adopted.

Rehabilitation, not punishment

SDK affirm its belief that youth offenders do not deserve punishment, most of the said offenders who committed crimes belong to the poor and working class families who have longed been deprived of a decent life.  They were pushed to resort on illegal activities because they need to survive on a barbaric world of consumerism.  The real culprit on this menace is no other than the government itself, who failed to provide a real program to rehabilitate youth offenders for them to be reintegrated and assume a constructive role in our society. The proposal to lower the minimum age on criminal responsibility will only make the real culprit (the government) get out of its responsibility.  It will not solve a single problem on the issue of youth perpetrated crimes.

They should be in schools, not in jails

Youth perpetrated crimes will be lessened or in the maximum be non-existent if the youth are enjoying their right to education. But in reality, drop-out rates in schools are increasing due to extreme poverty. Worst of all, the government continues to cut budgets in education and promotes commercialization. This is the government’s worst crime, depriving the youth of his/her right to be educated and build their capacity to live decently.

We call on the legislators to stop this non-sense blame game and focus on creating policies that will ensure our right to education and to live with dignity. Lowering the minimum age on criminal responsibility will never create a substantial solution. But ensuring our rights will definitely generate a more progressive, responsible, empowered and dignified citizens in the future.

September 15, 2011


[In the news] Escudero wants implementation of Juvenile Justice Law suspended – InterAksyon.com

Escudero wants implementation of Juvenile Justice Law suspended
by Karl John C. Reyes, InterAksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero has moved for the suspension of the implementation of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, claiming that the law isn’t working for the development and rehabilitation of youth offenders.

Escudero has submitted for plenary debate a committee report that recommends the suspension of the law and the reversion to the old law on juveniel justice – Presidential Decree 603 or the Child Welfare Act under the amended Revised Penal Code.

“We want to suspend the JJ (Juvenile Justice) Law because there are no funds for infrastructure and rehabilitation of youth offenders. Suspensiyon lang ang nais namin kasi nga walang infrastructure to support the law [What we want is for it to be suspended because there is no infrastructure to support the law],” Escudero said.

Read full article @ www.interaksyon.com

[Blogger] Ninoy Aquino is still in Jail by prisonersphilippines.wordpress.com


by John Lana

Political prisoners all over the country from various political blocks has been calling the attention of President Noynoy Aquino for their freedom. In fact, during the 2nd Sona of Pnoy, alleged political offenders and political prisoners (APOs/PPs) are on hunger strike and appealing to the new administration for their immediate release. They are the new Ninoy Aquino, who fought side by side with the masses and whose only sin was to serve the greatest number of people for their greatest good. Can the son (Pres. Noynoy Aquino) grant freedom to his father (alleged political offenders and political prisoners)?

Few days before Pres. Noynoy Aquino delivered his rhetorical speech in his second State of the Nation Address (Sona), another political prisoner died on stage four lung cancer without being granted release on humanitarian grounds by the Pnoy regime. Different human rights groups has been calling the attention of the new administration and followed by a written request to Sec. Teresita Qunitos-Deles of OPAPP, asking for the immediate release of Tatay Mariano Umbrero based on humanitarian consideration but the new regime of Pnoy seems to liken with the past administrations who were also naive, heartless and inhuman in treating political prisoners. Record shows that five political prisoners died due to severe sickness in New Bilibid Prison and one from BJMP Bicutan in the past and what is very disgusting and irritating is the failure of the past and present administrations to address the very major question of all seasons and that is “why until now there are still many Ninoy Aquino languishing in jails?”

Ninoy did not only fight against Marcos dictatorship but also against poverty and same true with all political prisoners in this country. If Ninoy would be living today, he would tell his son (Pres. Noynoy) what democracy means for Filipino masses and particularly for political prisoners. He would tell him to free political prisoners as what Corazon Aquino (mother of Pnoy) did during Edsa 1.

Why there are political prisoners? They only proves three major things: (1) the state is repressive and coercive and cannot tolerate non-align and opposing political and ideological beliefs (2) there must be something wrong with the socio-economic system and governance; and (3) change is inevitable. Along that lines we can say that it is the very system itself that gave birth to political prisoners and therefore, the burden to free must also be a state responsibility and accountability. In fact, not only APOs/PPs are its end result, many in our detention centers suffer a crime they didn’t actually commit and if there are some who really did it, it can be rooted in the very nature of the system itself that fails to address the very problem of society like poverty and injustices.

Quoting from Negros Chronicle, retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, one of the most outspoken magistrates of the high court , and pillar of human and civil rights, declared that poverty is the greatest terrorist not only in the Philippines but the entire civilized world as well.

People , he said, who are driven by extreme poverty, and in need of immediate survival for himself and his family especially, the option to commit crime and get money for survival comes to play. Supreme Court Chief Justice Puno said:

“If you come to the various dimensions of this problem of poverty, you will come to the conclusion that poverty is the cause of so many crimes, it is almost the mother of all causes of crimes in the world.

“A country may enjoy the first generation of human and political rights , but if the people are suffering from poverty, all these civil and political rights are nothing to them.”

“You may tell a poor man that he has the right and liberty to travel anytime anywhere in the world, but if he has no money, this right means nothing to him,” Puno said.

“You cannot tell a poor man about his right to participate in our political process, of being able to vote and be voted upon because if he has no money to pay for a decent education, this political right means nothing to him,” Puno added.

“The government and non-government sectors are doing everything to win this war against poverty. We cannot afford to lose this war against poverty because if we lose, then we lose everything, our liberty, our freedom and our future,” Justice Puno said.

Many observers agree and that, it is for this reason that illegal drug trafficking and extrajudicial killings are rampant in poverty stricken areas. Negros Oriental is one of the most depressed poverty stricken areas in the country in terms of economic opportunities because of the nature of the volcanic terrain.

People’s farms are now converted to residential areas since owners fear that CARP might take over their lands. Sugar mill owners said that they do not want to expand even modernize because owners are apprehensive what will happen to the industry under CARP take overs.

Puno said, “what good is human and civil rights if the people are poor? How can they air their legitimate gripes against government if they do not have money to go to court, that is why the jails are overstocked with poor detainees awaiting trial.”

Commenting on the bungled hostage taking, Justice Puno said that “everyone knows the crisis has been mis-handled however, he gives President Noy the benefit of reviewing the findings and that as President PNoy, he said, has the mandate to make a final decision on the outcome of the crisis.” Puno was here as main guest during the inauguration of the Suzuki World, the biggest Suzuki motorcycle service center so far opened by the company.



[Urgent Appeal] Political prisoners and detainees escalate their protest action from fasting to hunger strike – www.tfdp.net

Urgent Appeal (Philippines): Political prisoners and detainees escalate their protest action from fasting to hunger strike
On July 25, 2011, political prisoners and detainees around the country started their nationwide HUNGER STRIKE for freedom and human rights. This is to express their concern over: 1) government’s lack of explicit national policy on human rights; 2) the continuous neglect of the plight of victims of political incarceration; and, 3) to push for prison reforms specifically for the government to consider proposed changes on provisions set forth by the guidelines of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP).
The escalation of the struggle of the political prisoners into a hunger strike signifies their firm stance to call attention not only to their situation but the lack of a human rights agenda of the government. Juanito Itaas, head of the steering committee of political prisoners in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) expressed dismay that present government has no intention of looking into their situation.
Citing his case, Itaas was a full-time activist in Davao City when he was abducted and tortured by the Philippine Constabulary – Criminal Investigation Service (PC-CIS) and Regional Security Unit (RSU) on August 27, 1989. Later on, Itaas was wrongfully accused of murder and frustrated murder but eventually convicted for the killing of Col. James Rowe who was then the chief of the Army Division of the Joint RP – U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) and the wounding of his driver, Joaquin Vinuya. Itaas had filed several applications for amnesty. Due to supposed pressures and strong opposition by the United States government, his petitions were ignored and rejected.
Aside from Itaas, there are 319 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails across the country before a political prisoner Mariano Umbrero died two weeks ago. Umbrero was the cancer-stricken political prisoner in NBP who died last July 15, 2011 with government failing to grant executive clemency.
Currently, the government denies that these prisoners are political dissenters. After having charged these political prisoners/detainees with common felonies (i.e. illegal possession of firearms), the government now treats them as ordinary criminals. In the process, they deny the legitimacy and justness of the grievances of political offenders. Suspicion of being members or supporters of insurgent groups are the usual grounds for their arrest.
The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) has asked the government to look into their plight even before President Benigno Aquino III took his oath last year.  TFDP and human rights organizations even had a dialogue last year with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and they promised that they will resume the operation of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance, Pardon and Parole (PCBREPP) to evaluate the releases of political prisoners. But until now this promise has not been fulfilled.
PCBREPP was created during the time of former President Ramos as mechanism to table cases of alleged political offenders.  The process was able to release a significant number of political offenders under President Fidel Ramos’ term.  It was resurrected during the term of former President Gloria Arroyo and was able to release eight political prisoners at the last days of her term of office.
Meanwhile, political detainees in Dumaguete Provincial Jail, Kabankalan City Jail, Leyte Provincial Jail, Samar Provincial Jail and Catbalogan Samar Provincial Jail are also joining the hunger strike while political detainees in Mindanao and MMDJ Taguig are already in fasting since July 21, 2011.
Action Requested
Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to:
  1. Call upon competent authorities to look into the plight of the political prisoners and detainees particularly the criminalization of their political acts, and the bureaucracy in government that failed to immediately act on petitions such as parole, pardon and clemency filed by prisoners;
  2. Review the present Board of Pardons and Parole guidelines 2006 Revised Manual of the Board of Pardons and Parole, Section 3, Extraordinary Circumstances, a) to consider the proposal to lower the age limit of those eligible for pardon from 70 to 60 and, b)  to include prisoners who are “terminally ill and have debilitating diseases” for immediate executive clemency;
  3. Create a working group to examine, monitor, review and provide recommendations in relation to the ongoing cases of political offenders. Similar actions should be taken in dealing with pending appeals and applications for parole, pardon and clemency filed by political prisoners. The group should have unrestricted access to the prison system and its records;
  4. Provide a “a general and unconditional amnesty” for the release of political prisoners and detainees;
  5. Provide a clear action plan of government to include human rights principles as basis for governance and development plan;
  6. Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.
Please send your letters to:
  1. President Benigno C. Aquino III
    Republic of the Philippines
    Malacañan Palace
    JP Laurel Street , San Miguel
    Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
  1. Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr
Office of the President
1/F Bonifacio Hall, Malacañan Palace,
JP Laurel Street , San Miguel
Manila 1005
Tel: +63 2 733 3010 / 733 2485
  1. Secretary Leila M. De Lima
    Department of Justice (DOJ)
Padre Faura Street
Ermita, Manila, 1000
  1. Secretary Teresita Q. Deles
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
6th Floor, Agustin 1 Building, F. Ortigas Jr. Avenue (formerly Emerald Avenue)
Ortigas Center, Pasig City 1600
  1. Chairperson Loretta Ann P. Rosales
    Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
    SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
    U.P. Complex, Diliman
    Quezon City 1104
  1. Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva, 47 Avenue Blanc, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32

Prepared by:

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
#45 St. Mary Street, Cubao
Quezon City 1109, Philippines
Website: www.tfdp.net

[Press Release] Health group pushes for prison reforms as 63 year old, ailing political prisoner dies at New Bilibid Prison

Mariano Umbrero, 63, political prisoner incarcerated at New Bilibid Prison (NBP), passed away yesterday as a result of his deteriorating medical condition and lack of medical care. It is a general knowledge that inmates in prisons/jails all over the country are living in deplorable conditions.

Given the extent to which lung cancer of Tatay Umbrero, as he was fondly called inside NBP, had progressed, in mid-March this year, he was in and out of NBP hospital.

“It was just inhuman. Tatay Umbrero’s life could have been prolonged if he was freed immediately from prison. We believe a hospital complete with medical facilities-not a prison cell-is the place for old and sick inmates like him,” Edeliza P. Hernandez, Medical Action Group (MAG) said.

Tatay Umbrero has been dying to taste freedom through executive clemency by President Benigno Aquino III. He was in detention at NBP since 2004.

If the government chose to take concrete steps over indecision, Tatay Umbrero could have joined his loved ones and enjoyed the remaining days of his life outside the prison walls.

“We could not understand why the government has not expedited Tatay Umbrero’s release, when he have already served his minimum sentence and no longer pose any danger to society. With the single stroke of a pen, PNoy could have immediately signed the application for executive clemency of Tatay Umbrero and ordered his immediate release,” Hernandez added.

MAG said that “what happened to Tatay Umbrero, highlight the problems besetting our correction system. As of November 7, 2007, based on the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) data showed that there are 122 convicts who are eligible for pardon, having already reached the age of 70.”

MAG submitted to the DOJ proposed amendments on the Rules of Parole and Amended Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency of the 2006 Revised Manual of the Board of Pardons and Parole, Section 3, Extraordinary Circumstances, which are:

1.      On the age cut-off, we proposed to lower the age requirement to sixty (60) from seventy (70) years old; and

2.      To include terminally ill prisoners and debilitating diseases.

“We call on PNoy and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to study our proposals when it comes to rehabilitation of elderly and terminally-ill prisoners that will bring greater efficiency in rehabilitation of prisoners as well as towards in conformity to the principle of restorative justice,” MAG continued.

“Hopefully, he does this before another one prisoner die in prison under his watch,” MAG said.

Several studies on prison and correctional reforms have proposed establishing a humanitarian medical policy for those who are serving life sentences, humanitarian ground must be defined for those who must be considered for pardon and parole, and for executive clemency, that includes those who are elderly and terminally ill.

MAG claimed that there are of course recidivist criminals but there are also examples of prisoners who have reformed themselves and several studies found that releasing aged and terminally ill prisoners poses little, if any, risk to public safety. The process should spell out principles of legality and humanity, and this in conformity with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners.

“The vision of rehabilitation of inmates should be protected and uphold, not undermined,” MAG said.-end-

[People] Save the Children, Reform the Prison System – Fr. Shay Cullen

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Despite all the problems in the Philippine courts and prosecution system where judges have outrageously ordered that children trafficked, raped and abused be returned to their pimps by the abuse of the Habeas Corpus law, good judges release minors from degrading prison conditions for transfer to healthy rehabilitation centres.

Success in the campaign for freedom of children in sub-human prison conditions where their human rights are violated daily is gaining ground in the experience of the PREDA Foundation. (www.preda.org) hundreds of minors have been rescued by the foundation’s social workers with the court orders of good judges who implement the Juvenile Justice and Welfare law. Minors younger than 15 years old and below are not to be criminally charged under this law but are to be diverted to rehabilitation programmes for counseling and character formation. Others, where municipal social workers can determine that the minors over 15 years-old have done a criminal act without discernment can also be diverted to a rehabilitation centre while the prosecutor decides the case. This prevents the incarceration of these youngsters in prisons where they are influenced by the hardened criminals even if they are now kept in separate cells.

However in many municipalities the police frequently detain the minors over 15 years-old in overcrowded holding cells with other adults accused of crimes. The big change is that rarely do they jail those kids under fifteen. This is a big development. In the past, kids as young as 6 years old were jailed and we must never forget these violations of children’s rights and how easily it became a regular practice. In some municipalities the police turn the street kids in conflict with the law over to the municipal social welfare office. They have no facilities and are incapable of dealing with the children and some even lock them up in overcrowded makeshift cells until the social worker can identify them and find their parents which is a near impossible task considering the slums where the shacks and hovels are piled on top of each other without street names or addresses.

The positive developments since the passing of the Juvenile Justice bill and the non-stop work of PREDA social workers helping release children from prison and giving them a chance for a new life of dignity and healing has seen remarkable success. This shameful practice of jailing small children and teenagers while still innocent until proven guilty as seen in the past by these photos on our web site shows that we can never return to this phase of child abuse and must continue to campaign to stop its continued practice in some police jails and detention centers. The photos show how blatant was and is the violation of the human rights of children by the authorities against all the conventions and protocols signed by the Philippine government to protect children’s rights.

While some government officials would like to ban and remove these photos from our website since they are an embarrassment and evidence of government neglect, and we need them to help parents and social workers to identify them as lost and missing children and return them to their parents. Besides, they are evidence of human rights violations and should not be censored. Until there is a national database of missing children there is no other way to find missing, abducted or lost children.

But let us not forget that it happened on a large scale and still happens to a lesser degree. But we cannot forget and continue the fight for the protection of human rights and show that the Philippines must never tolerate such practice ever again. We cannot rewrite this sad history but we can build a brighter future for children in conflict with the law.

There are some police and politicians that would favour repealing the law protecting child form arbitrary detention and changing back to the law to hold minors younger than 15 years liable for prosecution and detention. The good news is that the Aquino Government is getting serious about prison reform. It will benefit minors and we give full support to the progressive moves to reform the prison system where children are at times still jailed with adults. The most congested jails in Metro Manila are the Quezon City jail, with a congestion rate of 295 percent; followed by the Las Piñas City jail, 259 percent; and the Manila City jail, 195 percent. Camp Karingal’s Female Dormitory was found 197 percent crammed, while the Paranaque City jail was 132 percent packed.

It is urgent to change this horrific situation of prisoners and treat them as human beings with rights and dignity despite their crimes. Above all children must never be jailed. There are other positive ways to help and treat them.

(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)

[In the news] Aquino mum on sanctions vs BuCor director | Sun.Star

Aquino mum on sanctions vs BuCor director | Sun.Star.

MANILA — Despite calls from several groups to sack Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ernesto Diokno over the alleged abuse of former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste of his “living out” privileges, President Benigno Aquino III is not keen on immediately using his disciplinary powers over his appointee.

“Habang may panawagan, may process that we need to undergo bago makapagdesisyon kung ano yung liability at culpability ni Director Diokno dun sa naging incident,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over government-run dzRB radio.

Valte said Aquino would rather wait for the recommendations from the panel of prosecutors tasked by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to conduct a fact-finding investigation.

“We expect in the coming days to find out the recommendation and decision of President Aquino based on the findings of the panel,” she said.

De Lima sought to put Diokno under preventive suspension but only the President has the disciplinary powers over the BuCor director.

Diokno earlier said prisoners who can be trusted not to escape are given the privilege to “live out” of the regular NBP prison facilities.

“‘Living out’ prisoners aren’t guarded as heavily as the other prisoners,” he said.

But de Lima said: “If you know that things like that happen within your area of responsibility, you should have done something at first instance more than just giving a warning to the inmate.”

The former Batangas governor, who was convicted of homicide in 2009 for killing his longtime aide and friend Rafael de las Alas in 2007, was arrested last Wednesday outside the LPL Building in Makati City for leaving the national penitentiary without the approval of authorities.

The Justice secretary formed a fact-finding committee, composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay, with Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio, National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Ruel Lasala, and State Counsel Wilberto Tolitol and Charlene Mae Tapic as members, to look into the matter.

The panel conducted its ocular inspection of the NBP’s minimum security compound Saturday.

De Lima wants to find out how Leviste was able to leave the jail, how many times he did it, and to punish those responsible.

On Friday, Leviste was charged with evasion of service of sentence in the Makati Metropolitan Trial Court (MMTC).

If found guilty of the new charge, 6-12 more years will be added to his existing prison sentence of 6-12 years since 2009.

The House Committee on Justice will conduct a hearing this week to probe the said incident.

Diokno and other officials will be summoned to the committee hearing scheduled on May 25.

Officials from the Bureau of Pardons and Parole, and the Department of Justice will also be invited. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)

« Older Entries