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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020   •   354

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.

Supreme Court suspends work at all courts Monday afternoon for Family Week

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday announced that work at all courts nationwide will be suspended at 3:30 p.m. on Monday in line with the observance of Family Week.

“Chief Justice Peralta leads the Judiciary in celebrating Family Week pursuant to Proclamation No. 60 (s.1992),” the SC Public Information Office (PIO) said in an advisory posted on its Twitter account.

“Work in all courts nationwide today shall only be until 3:30PM, to encourage court employees to spend more time with their families,” it added.

Under Presidential Proclamation No. 60 (s. of 1992), the last week of September of every year is declared as Family Week.

Malacañang earlier announced that work in government agencies under the executive branch will also be shortened on Monday afternoon to allow workers to celebrate Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga Day.

The Palace also encouraged other branches of the government, independent commissions and the private sector to do the same.

However, agencies whose functions involve the delivery of basic and health and services, preparedness/response to disasters and calamities, and/or the performance of other vital services are exempted from the work suspension.

SC ‘considering’ online bar exams, CJ Peralta says

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) is considering holding the next bar examinations virtually.

At Thursday’s Senate hearing on the Judiciary’s proposed 2021 budget, Senator Francis Tolentino cited that there are several states in the United States that are gearing towards online bar examinations.

According to Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, they are looking into the said move.

The SC has decided to postpone the 2020 bar examinations due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

It is expected to be held in November this year in conjunction with the 2021 bar examinations.

Next year’s bar exams will be held simultaneously at three sites located in Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Associate justice and 2020 bar examination chairman Marvic Leonen confirmed that the team of the bar chair has been studying the possibility of conducting online but proctored bar exams or a mix of online and written exams in more than two places as part of bar reform.

“Definitely, the bar examinations will not be conducted as it was before,” he said.

“We have to embrace a better normal that is safe, effective and equitable taking advantage of the best digital formats while at the same time acknowledging issues of security and accessibility for some bar applicants,” he added.
 
Leonen said he has already “provided general briefings to the Court en banc but have not yet made a firm proposal until we have worked out all the logistical and security issues.”
 
“I am also in constant consultation with members of the Court and the bar chairs that will succeed me in 2022, 2023 and 2024,” he added.
 
 Leonen said that in the coming months, pilot tests will be done to see the viability of various proposals for the conduct of future bar exams. 

BuCor issues release order for Pemberton

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Thursday issued the release order for convicted killer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton following President Rodrigo Duterte’s grant of absolute pardon.

The release order signed by BuCor chief Gerald Bantag was then transmitted to the compound of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) inside the Camp Aguinaldo where Pemberton is being detained pursuant to the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Pemberton will be turned over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for the process of his deportation.

The BI earlier said the deportation order was issued against Pemberton in 2015 for being an undesirable alien when he was sentenced for the 2014 murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Laude at a motel in Olongapo City in 2014. He was sentenced to serve six to ten years in prison.

Prior to Duterte’s pardon, an Olongapo court had ordered BuCor to recompute the time that Pemberton served and to determine if he is eligible to avail the good conduct time allowance rule.

Foreign nationals who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and regional trial court as proof that they have no more pending criminal or civil cases.

Once these requirements are submitted, the deportee’s flight will then be arranged and scheduled by the BI.

“Depende po yan kung maibibigay kaagad ang NBI clearance, may ticket, sa atin pag mayroo na lahat niyan automatic madali na po yan kasi implementation na lang po mayroon nang departure order. Eh mayroon ng deportation order,” BI acting spokesperson Melvin Mabulac said.

According to Guevarra, the deportation proceedings can be completed by the weekend but Pemberton’s actual date of exit from the country depends on his flight arrangements as he is a military personnel of the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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