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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.

BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

MENARDO GUEVARRA

NEW BILIBID PRISON

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: July 2, 2022 - 1:03pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

July 2, 2022 - 1:03pm

Antoine Flahault, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva says that there is a "fragile, armed peace" with COVID-19. 

"In the hopes of stemming the tide of the pandemic and reducing mortality, we need to reduce the level of contamination, which the vaccine cannot do alone," he tells AFP.

"We need a new phase -- improving the quality of indoor air." 

June 25, 2022 - 4:46pm

China reports zero new COVID-19 infections in Shanghai for the first time since March on Saturday, as the country's latest outbreak subsides after months of virus-spurred lockdowns and restrictions.

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

June 13, 2022 - 4:20pm

Beijing starts a new round of mass testing in its most populous downtown district after a rapidly spreading outbreak linked to a bar saw Covid rules tightened again in the capital.

A night of partying by one Beijing resident last week threw the city's tentative reopening into chaos, leading authorities to shutter nightlife venues in the downtown district of Chaoyang days after they reopened last Monday. 

The resident, who did not get tested for 14 days, went to several bars and nightlife venues in Chaoyang in the days before and after developing a fever.

The outbreak stemming from the Heaven Supermarket bar has infected at least 183 people in 15 districts so far. — Agence France Presse

June 9, 2022 - 1:04pm

City authorities say that Shanghai will lock down a district of 2.7 million people on Saturday to conduct mass coronavirus testing as the Chinese metropolis struggles to fully emerge from punishing curbs.

The city eased many restrictions last week, after confining most of its 25 million residents to their homes since March as China battled its worst COVID-19 outbreak in two years.

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

June 5, 2022 - 5:09pm

City officials say Beijing will gradually lift COVID-19 restrictions this week.

After some easing in recent days, the Chinese capital -- which reported 19 new infections Sunday -- announced residents would start returning to work from Monday and schools would reopen from June 13.

China is wedded to a zero-COVID strategy of hard lockdowns, mass testing and long quarantine periods to wipe out clusters as they emerge. — AFP

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