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On International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, group presses SC to promulgate rules for Kalayaan writ
Members of Kapatid tied blue ribbons and paper-cut doves on its gates, reminding the justices that it can exercise “compassionate intervention” to save human life on Thursday, December 3.
KAPATID/release

On International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, group presses SC to promulgate rules for Kalayaan writ

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - December 3, 2020 - 2:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — On the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, advocacy group Kapatid urged Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to promulgate a writ of kalayaan geared to decongest jails.

Kapatid, families of and advocacy group for political prisoners, on Thursday went to the Supreme Court to tie blue ribbons and paper-cut doves on its gates, reminding the justices that it can exercise “compassionate intervention” to save human life.

They also wrote letters to Perata to “leave a lasting legacy by securing the promulgation of the Writ of Kalayaan,” a remedy introduced by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen in his separate opinion on the SC’s decision junking political prisoners’ plea for temporary release amid the pandemic.

Leonen wrote in his separate opinion that the potential Writ of Kalayaan would be geared toward addressing jail congestion.

Leonen said: “It shall be issued when all the requirements to establish cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment are present” and “provide an order of precedence to bring the occupation of jails to a more humane level.”

The political prisoners lost their case for temporary release under humanitarian ground before the SC. The tribunal instead told lower courts to resolve issues raised in their petition “with dispatch.”

READ: SC ends 5-month wait, directs elderly and sickly detainees' plea to lower courts

Fides Lim, Kapatid spokesperson and wife of political prisoner Vicente Ladlad, told Peralta that the writ of Kalayan “gives [them] hope that not all is lost especially for those of us with the elderly and very sick kin saddled with numerous manufactured cases that may outlast them beyond the grave.”

“We only seek justice and we appeal to your sense of compassion and sensitivity to urgently address the subhuman conditions in Philippine jails that have become a systemic problem,” Lim added.

In a press conference last October 23, Peralta said if Leonen has not yet come up with suggestions on the potential writ of kalayaan, they will organize a committee to study it.

READ: Baby River, Enrile's release and the long wait on political prisoners' plea

She said that the writ of kalayaan would be similar to the writ of kalikasan, but the former would be a continuing mandamus for government agencies to protect prisoners “from being infected with the virus by decongesting the jails.”

She added that the writ would give precedence to ensure that jail occupation is on a more humane level, and those detained with lowest penalties and with crimes driven by indignities of poverty and not extreme malice may be prioritized.

“I truly hope that you will likewise establish a historic precedence to secure the constitutional right to life, liberty, and security of prisoners deprived of liberty who disproportionately come from the poorest classes,” Lim also said.

She told Peralta: “Life is fleeting. We hope and pray that you will heed our appeal because if the Court of Last Resort denies us this avenue, where else do we turn to?”

The SC announced earlier this week that Peralta will opt for early retirement from the SC, and he will step down in March 2021, a year ahead of reaching his mandatory retirement age of 70.

DIOSDADO PERALTA KAPATID SUPREME COURT
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