The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has reportedly freed a total of 15,322 prisoners or persons deprived of liberty (PDL) from March 17 to June 22 to ease congestion in jam-packed jails amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) confirmed the figure on Thursday, add that 5,910 came from Metro Manila, 1,557 came from Calabarzon, 1,487 came from Central Visayas, 1,041 came from Central Luzon, 897 came from Zamboanga Peninsula, 762 came Northern Mindanao, and the rest came from other regions.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said most of the released inmates were senior citizens and had light and bailable offenses. The discharge was authorized by courts and per the Supreme Court's administrative circulars to further prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its overcrowded prisons.
Año explained, "Ang paglaya ng libo-libong PDLs ay patunay na hindi sila nakakaligtaan at hindi pinapabayaan. Patunay rin itong gumagana ang justice system sa bansa kahit pa man may pandemya."
So far, the DILG has recorded 783 PDL cases and 549 recoveries in several BJMP detention centers, as well as 135 cases and 90 recoveries among the agency's personnel. Back in May, it was reported that 9,731 prisoners have already been released in the country between March 1 and April 29 for the same reason.
"Tinututukan po namin ang sitwasyon sa mga BJMP jail sa buong bansa at hindi namin pinapabayaan ang mga COVID-19 positive cases. Sa katunayan, marami na ang gumaling at hindi kami bibitaw hanggang bawat isa sa kanila ay maka-recover na."