Press Release
December 17, 2018

Dispatch from Crame No. 435:
Sen Leila M. de Lima's Statement on the Non-Implementation of RA 10951 and the Imperative Need for Prison Reforms


Just because no one is watching, just because no one is keeping count, doesn't grant unbridled license to be neglectful of public duties. This is the attitude that we should maintain in government service. Apparently, however, some officials in the current administration display a different mindset. Nagpapabaya sa tungkulin. Papetiks-petiks. Dedma.

This is another instance, just like the sham drug war, where this administration has made a mockery of our justice system. Recently, during the budget hearing of the DOJ, Senator Frank Drilon revealed that around 862 inmates who are already entitled to be released under Republic Act No. 10951 - the law adjusting the amount or value of property or damage on which imprisonment or fine is based - are still locked in moldy prison cells that house more inmates than they could actually take.

Anong ginagawa ni Atty. Persida Acosta at ng PAO sa kanilang mandato sa ilalim ng RA 10951? How could they sleep at night knowing that only two (2) out of 862 qualified prisoners have been released since the passage of said law a little over a year ago? In Sen. Drilon's words - THIS IS CRIMINAL NEGLECT. Bakit hindi nila ito inaatupag? Dahil ba wala halos media value, walang gaanong pogi points, ang asikasuhin ang kapakanan ng mga bilanggo, isang sektor na lubhang naisasantabi?

Like the rest of us, prisoners are humans, who are entitled to fair treatment. Dapat silang bigyan ng pag-asa. I always have this in mind when I filed Senate Bill No. 1879 or the Unified Corrections and Jail Management System Act of 2018, and SBN 2130 or the Prison Reform Act of 2018. I am motivated by the global trend towards restorative justice in the laws concerning crime and punishment.

Let us listen to the experts and reform advocates: treat prisoners like the human beings they really are. Rehabilitate them for someday they will be reintegrated back to society.

Imprisonment is neither a license to have them languish in the dark forever, nor is it a death sentence. Babalik sila sa ating lipunan balang araw. Nais ba natin na bumalik sila na nababalot ng poot at dilim at galit sa pagpapawalang-halaga sa kanilang karapatang pantao?

Let us then plant seeds of hope and respect in our prisoners and their families. Let us finally uproot the weeds of mistrust and misgivings in our midst.

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