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

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
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

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.






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China is the last major economy still committed to a zero-Covid strategy, stamping out new cases with a combination of targeted lockdowns, mass testing and lengthy quarantines.

The economic hub of Shanghai was forced into a months-long lockdown during a Covid surge this spring driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, while the capital Beijing shuttered schools and offices for weeks over a separate outbreak. — AFP

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But the lockdown was never fully lifted, with hundreds of thousands in China's biggest city still restricted to their homes and multiple residential compounds put under fresh stay-home orders.— AFP

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