57 GCTA returnees, 59 parolees walk free in time for the holidays

Marje Pelayo   •   December 25, 2019   •   748

MANILA, Philippines – More than a hundred persons deprived of liberty (PDL) walked free from prison on Tuesday (December 24) just in time for the holidays.

A total of 57 inmates who returned to jail and had their Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) privileges reviewed can now reunite with their respective families.

Meanwhile, 59 PDLs from inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) were finally granted parole — the best gift they were able to receive this holiday.

“Based po doon sa aming strict evaluation ng kanilang mga karpeta, so nakita namin na entitled sila doon sa GCTA, (Based on our strict evaluation of their records, we assessed that they really are entitled to the GCTA),” explained BuCor OIC for Documents, SJO3 Albert Manalo.

“We found out na talagang na-serve na nila ang  (We found out that they already have served their) conviction, so we do not have any legal basis for their continued stay,” he added.

According to the BuCor, there are still more than a thousand GCTA returnees whose cases they need to asses.

These returnees surrendered themselves following a call from President Rodrigo Duterte during the height of the controversy when alleged heinous crime criminals also benefitted from the GCTA.

 “It has started already and it will continue as there are records that are finished and evaluated. Tuluy-tuloy ang pagpapa-release, (Continuous release will proceed),”assured BuCor PIO Chief Gabriel Chaclag.

“Pwede nating sabihing by batch, but as soon as may naipon, (We can do it by batch. As soon as their cases are reviewed, release will follow). Kasi ang direction ni Director General Bantag ay bilisan (Director General Bantag’s direction is to expedite the process) in compliance with the directive of our beloved president,” Chaclag added.

Meanwhile, BuCor calls on qualified jobseekers to consider joining the agency as they are in need of more than a thousand correction officers such as nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers among others.

Interested applicants may visit the BuCor office for information

SC suspends transfer of convicted inmates to BuCor due to COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the courts in the country to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment order for the transfer of convicted inmates from detention facilities to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a circular posted on the Supreme Court’s Twitter page, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that all convicted persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from July 29 to August 31, 2020.

This is in line with the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to the Office of the Court Administrator to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BuCor to prevent the further contamination of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

Probe into deaths of Bilibid high-profile inmates due to COVID-19 sought in Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said she has filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the deaths of nine inmates in the New Bilibid Prison after allegedly testing positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In filing Senate Resolution No. 473, Hontiveros said the deaths of these high-profile inmates must be looked into following questions surrounding their demise.

“It is baffling how COVID-19 was able to wipe out several drug lords with one blow,” she said in a statement.

“For the sake of transparency, they need to be clarified,” she added.

Hontiveros pointed out that previous Senate investigation on the alleged corruption inside BuCor have revealed “schemes in which high-ranking officials of the bureau would dispense favors to rich inmates in exchange for monetary consideration.”

She said these schemes and the immediate disposal of the remains cast a cloud of doubt over the reported deaths of the inmates.

“The lack of reliable information on the deaths of the inmates, the track record of some officials within the BuCor, and the improbability of the fatality rate, creates enough doubt in the mind of a reasonable person on the truthfulness of these deaths,” Hontiveros said,

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier confirmed that a number of inmates, nine of whom were high-profile, in the New Bilibid Prisons have succumbed to COVID-19.

BuCor chief Gerald Bantag, however, said he cannot disclose the names of these individuals pursuant to the Data Privacy Act.

The Department of Justice has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to delve into the issue.

Meanwhile, Hontiveros’ resolution also sought to investigate the health and sanitary conditions in penal institutions “so that the abnormally high number of COVID-19 fatalities might be addressed.”

“By conducting this investigation, we may be able to put an end to speculation and improve our response to the pandemic within our penal institutions,” she added.

BuCor preps ‘Site Harry’ for COVID-19 response at NBP

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 1, 2020

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) continues to prepare the New Bilibid Prison’s (NBP) coronavirus disease (COVID-19) quarantine area at Site Harry.

On Thursday (April 30), BuCor received medical supplies and other equipment from the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). The ICRC also renovated the isolation area for the Person’s Deprived of Liberty (PDL) who are exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms.

The ICRC donated personal protective equipment (PPEs), beds and pillows.

The said isolation area was previously used as a work area for making handicrafts. The area can accommodate up to 100 PDLs.

“The families of the PDL in the NBP can be assured that there is now a comfortable facility that can accommodate their PDL loved ones in case of confinement in relation to COVID-19,” BuCor said in a statement. AAC

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