160 prisoners in North Cotabato released

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KIDAPAWAN CITY: Over 160 detainees from different jails in North Cotabato have been freed through the government’s Enhanced Justice on Wheels program.

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Supreme Court (SC) deputy court administrator Thelma Bahia, who attended the recent hearings of the 227 cases, said the program is aimed at “unclogging dockets in courts and decongesting the heavy population in district jails.”

Overcrowded jails is a common problem across the country.

The SC program was able to hear 227 cases, 36 of which were referred for mediation and 15 were successfully mediated. Two detainees were convicted and will be committed to the Davao Penal Colony.

“The Supreme Court also aims to bring justice closer to the poor, especially those detainees who have long been detained and reached their maximum jail term,” said Bahia.

Gov. Emmylou Mendoza said there was an urgent need to expedite the resolution of the cases of the detainees as it did not only decongest jails, but also to give justice to those who have been in jail for many years already.

“If they have served their maximum time in jail then we believe that they deserved to a second change to life. We are happy to welcome back these detainees and we could only hope that they will immediately be reintegration to the society. We are happy for them and for their family,” Mendoza said.

The detainees were from the North Cotabato District Jail and the district jails of Makilala, Midsayap, Pigcawayan, Kabacan and Kidapawan City.

Apart from the mobile court hearings, SC also provided mediation for fast and inexpensive way of resolving minor conflicts or disputes, free medical-dental checkup for inmates with legal aid, information dissemination campaign for village officials.

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