Press Release
October 26, 2008

Gordon seeks freedom of 120 sick and elderly women inmates

Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today appealed to President Arroyo to grant executive clemency to about 120 elderly and sickly women prisoners in consonance with her administration's much-avowed policy of humanitarian compassion.

Gordon made the appeal in a formal request he, along with Zonta Club of Makati, sent to the President on behalf of the 120 women inmates who are either terminally ill or are 70 years old at the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City.

"These poor and unprivileged women prisoners are deserving of executive clemency. Over a dozen of them have terminal illnesses and more than a hundred are already weak in their advanced age," he said.

"Their continued incarceration in one of the country's most congested prisons amount to cruel and inhuman punishment - this is something we should never condone as a society," he added.

Gordon has earlier secured the release of three women prisoners who were over 70 years old even as he hoped to have nine more women inmates to be released and reunited with their loved ones before Christmas.

These three women prisoners released were Rosita Barba, 78, and was sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal recruitment; Rosaria Dapuay, 74, and Anita Goronia, 80, who were both convicted for selling illegal drugs.

Gordon, a lawyer by profession, stressed that justice be tempered with mercy and compassion as society's higher mission should be to restore dignity and alleviate human suffering wherever it exists.

"These women prisoners are no longer threats to society and are in need of special care which may not be provided adequately by the government," he said.

Although it can only accommodate 500 prisoners, the CIW, one of the country's most crowded prisons, currently hosts about 900 women prisoners. In 2007, 15 inmates had died of advanced age or terminal illness while in confinement at the CIW.

In requesting the immediate release of the aged female prisoners, Gordon cited Memorandum Order 155 issued by President Arroyo on November 17, 2004 which directed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and Board of Pardons and Parole to submit the names of 70 year old inmates who may be granted executive clemency.

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