DOJ eases rules for pardon, executive clemency in time of COVID-19 pandemic
Calls for the release of vulnerable PDLs in our overcrowded jails and penal facilities in the time of COVID-19 pandemic continue to mount.
The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales, file

DOJ eases rules for pardon, executive clemency in time of COVID-19 pandemic

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - April 22, 2020 - 5:10pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice is easing application for parole and executive clemency to hasten decongestion of penal facilities in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra approved a board resolution on the Interim Rules on Parole and Executive Clemency which is part of DOJ’s “study for the release of prisoners on humanitarian considerations,” said Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete.

The Parole and Probation Administration defined parole as conditional release of a prisoner in correctional institution after serving the minimum period of prison sentence, while an executive clemency is the commutation of sentence, conditional pardon and absolute pardon that may be granted by the president.

Under the interim rules, parole or executive clemency review of inmates who are elderly, sickly or suffering with terminal, life-threatening illnesses or with serious disability will be prioritized.

Documentary requirements for parole review and executive clemency cases are trimmed down to only include court certification of no pending case, court certification of no appeal and records check with the National Bureau of Investigation.

Board members are also directed to “take up twice the amount of their regular load in order to expedite the grant of parole and recommendation for executive clemency.”

Requirements for parole eligibility remain

Perete explained that “general requirements for eligibility of parole remain.”

Under DOJ rules, the following are eligible for parole:

  • Inmate serving an indeterminate sentence the maximum period of which exceeds one year
  • Inmate has served the minimum period of the indeterminate sentence
  • Inmate’s conviction is final and executory
  • Inmate has no pending case
  • Inmate is serving sentence in the national penitentiary, unless confinement in municipal, city, district or provincial jail is justified

Other proposals to decongest penal facilities are still being vetted, Perete said.      

More PDLs made eligible for executive clemency

Perete said those who are not eligible for parole “may apply for clemency if they meet the criteria set under the resolution.”

Persons Deprived of Liberty who are 65 years old and above who have served at least five years of their sentence or whose “continued imprisonment is inimical to their health” are eligible for executive clemency.

Heinous crimes, drug convicts excluded

These new guidelines, however, do not cover convicts of heinous crimes or illegal drugs-related crimes, or those classified by the Bureau of Corrections as high-risk.

The resolution however did not define who are considered “high-risk” inmates.

The resolution will be effective while the state of national emergency is in place.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW), under BuCor, has risen to 20.

National tally of COVID-19 meanwhile is at 6,710 infections.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: June 18, 2021 - 2:41pm

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June 18, 2021 - 2:41pm

Lights, camera, real live audiences — Milan fashion welcomes back actual people to its shows Friday, a sign the industry is ready to start turning the page on virtual formats adopted during the pandemic.

The numbers are still modest, with only Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro inviting an audience to their men's Spring/Summer 2022 collections.

"This is the dress rehearsal of the return to normalcy," Federica Trotta Mureau, editor of the Italian fashion magazine Mia Le Journal, told AFP. 

The shows represent baby steps but the effect of the live events, instead of the video presentations or short films relied on since early last year when coronavirus cut short the twice-yearly shows in Italy's business capital, would still be appreciated, Mureau said. — AFP

June 17, 2021 - 7:45pm

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 3,835,238 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1000 GMT on Thursday. 

At least 176,966,040 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

The vast majority have recovered, though some have continued to experience symptoms weeks or even months later. —  AFP

June 17, 2021 - 7:42am

A repurposed arthritis drug has shown positive results in a clinical trial of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tofacitinib, taken orally and sold under the brand name Xeljanz among others, was tested in a trial of 289 patients hospitalized with severe COVID across 15 locations in Brazil.

Half received the drug — a 10 mg pill twice a day — and standard care like glucocorticoids that tamp down an overactive immune response, while the other half received a placebo and standard care.

After 28 days, 18.1% of the group receiving the tofacitinib progressed to respiratory failure or death, compared to 29% in the placebo group.

This represented a statistically significant relative risk reduction of 63%. — AFP

June 16, 2021 - 7:52am

The US death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 600,000 on Tuesday, although officials hailed progress towards a return to normality as its world-leading vaccination program promised to turn the page on one of the worst health crises in American history.

The United States has racked up by far the largest national death toll  ahead of Brazil and India  after a heavily-criticized early response to the pandemic, but has since organized among the world's most effective immunization drives.

Progress against the coronavirus was underlined as New York announced more than 70 percent of adults had received at least one vaccine dose and the last of the state's restrictions could be lifted.

"There's still too many lives being lost," President Joe Biden said, noting that despite the daily number of dead dropping sharply, the continuing loss of life was still "a real tragedy." — AFP

June 14, 2021 - 7:22pm

The pandemic has killed at least 3,805,928 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in December 2019, according to an AFP compilation of official data at 1830 GMT. 

The US is the worst-affected country with 599,769 deaths, followed by Brazil with 487,401, India with 374,305, Mexico with 230,150, Peru with 188,708 and the United Kingdom with 127,904.

The figures are based on reports by health authorities in each country, but do not take into account upward revisions carried out later by statistical bodies. 

The WHO says up to three times more people have died directly or indirectly due to the pandemic than official figures suggest. —  AFP

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