In the spirit of the Christmas season, Buhay party-list group Rep. and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to direct the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to immediately conduct an inventory of inmates and release those who may have already overserved their sentences.
“Many inmates have already served their sentences but continue to languish in jails all over the country, owing to the slow pace of our justice system, and with no lawyers keeping an eye on their cases,” Atienza said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This is one of the reasons why we are absolutely against the death penalty. Because of our defective and disjointed criminal justice system, only the poor who cannot afford lawyers will be sentenced to death. While the moneyed criminals buy their way through the corruption network and go scot-free,” he added.
Atienza also reminded government to focus not only on political detainees but more so on prisoners who are suffering from sub-human conditions inside jails.
He invoked Article III, Section 19 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides, “The employment of physical, psychological or degrading punishment against any prisoner or detainee or the use of sub-standard or inadequate penal facilities under sub-human conditions shall be dealt with by law.”
The lawmaker also cited Article I of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which provides, “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.”
Atienza pointed out that the slow pace of the justice system has been depriving thousands of inmates of a speedy trial, as provided for under Article III, Section 16 of the Constitution, which states, “All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative bodies.”
“Many inmates who were supposed to serve short sentences end up being imprisoned for extended periods. This is contrary to what our Constitution guarantees. This is a classic case of justice delayed is justice denied,” he said.