Press Release
October 24, 2020

PDLs deserve humane treatment - De Lima

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has reiterated the need to establish reforms that would help uphold the rights and dignity of Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) and ensure that they receive humane treatment while in prison.

In her message on the celebration of the 33rd Prison Awareness Week, De Lima maintained that every person, including PDLs, has rights that should be respected, regardless of social status.

"As the late Nelson Mandela, great leader and liberator of South Africa, who was detained for 27 years, said: 'No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones,'" she recalled.

"Ito nga po ang hamon hindi lang sa bawat bansa, kundi sa bawat isa sa atin: ang igalang ang karapatang pantao ng lahat, anuman ang kanyang estado sa buhay, anuman ang kanyang nakaraan, pinanggalingan o paniniwala," she added.

Observed from from Oct. 19 to 25, the theme for this year's Prison Awareness Week is "Restoring Hope and Healing during this Time of Pandemic through God's Transforming Unconditional Love."

A human rights and social justice champion who has continually sought for much needed reforms in the country's prison and correctional systems, De Lima filed bills, logged as Senate Bills No. 180 and 181, that both aim to implement comprehensive reforms in the country's prison and correctional systems this 18th Congress.

"For decades, we have been confronted with the many problems that hound our prison system, which include severe jail congestion, inadequate facilities, lack of resources, and the inhumane conditions that encouraged the proliferation of illegal activities among inmates," she said.

"These are what I seek to address in filing Senate Bill Nos. 180 and 181," added De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

Highlighting the the severity of prison problems, De Lima cited reports confirming that nine convicts were found dead after two gangs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) engaged in a riot last October 9.

Likewise, she offered a solution to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) to decongest our jails and prisons through a systematic release of qualified PDLs on humanitarian grounds last April.

De Lima, a staunch human rights and social justice champion, lauds the Supreme Court for its newly approved guidelines on the release of detention prisoners with minor offenses, allowing the imposition of community service in lieu of imprisonment. She also support Justice Marvic Leonen's recent call to provide a remedy, grounded on social justice, called the "Writ of Kalayaan", to protect the rights of PDLs by treating them with humanity, especially during a pandemic.

The lady Senator said the observation of Prison Awareness Week sends a strong message to the public to show love and compassion to those who are suffering, including inmates.

"Malinaw po ang layunin natin: Bilang Pilipino at bilang tapat na tagasunod ni Hesukristo, pinangingibabaw natin ang malasakit, respeto at pagmamahal sa ating kapwa," she said.

"Itinataguyod natin ang katarungang panlipunan na hinihikayat ang pagbabagong buhay ng mga bilanggo, na sa loob man ng bilangguan o sa pagbabalik nila sa lipunan, ay may kapwa silang gumagalang sa kanilang karapatang pantao. Dito nga po makikita ang diwa ng ating pagka-Pilipino, gayundin ng ating pagpapakatao at pakikipagkapwa-tao," she added.

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