Philippine Catholic Church Reminds Authorities to Uphold the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty

With Prison Awareness Sunday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, or CBCP is calling for authorities to respect the rights of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs). This comes from the statement of the Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care of the organization, which also calls for the safety of the PDLs.

The CBCP-ECPPC Chairman Bishop Joel Baylon shared the sentiment, saying that respect for the people could help everyone in the prison system to create a listening, healing, and loving community.

Recent Prison Controversy

According to the article by Sunstar, the statement came a week after the death of the alleged assassination middleman of slain broadcaster Percy Lapid. Authorities found Jun Villamor dead in the New Biblibid Prison. The autopsy indicates that Villamor died of asphyxiation via a plastic bag.

The assassination of Lapid is still clouded in mystery as the authorities gave over 160 persons of interest when it comes to his death. However, ABS CBN reported that the different police departments are apparently close to filing charges against the appropriate suspects.

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Prison Awareness Week

In an article by Manila Bulletin, Bishop Baylon asked for the people to pray for the inmates so that they can return to “God’s loving arms.” For this year, the bishop is set to hold a Solidarity Eucharistic Celebration at the Maximum Security Compound of the New Bilibid Prison.

This year marks the 35th celebration of Prison Awareness Week which is usually observed from October 24 to 30. The theme for this year is “Towards a Listening, Healing and Loving Correctional Community.”

Manila Bulletin also reported that this year, celebrities Katya Santos and Giselle Sanchez visited and performed at the Maa City Jail in Davao City. Deputy Warden Erwin Esden extended his gratitude to the performers, saying that it has been three years since the prisoners have seen celebrities for National Correction Consciousness Week, the other name of the awareness week.

According to Ellen Rose Saragena, the chief administrator of the Davao jail, the week is a time for the correctional facility to provide entertainment programs for the PDLs. Also, outside the penitentiary, they also do programs such as fun runs, medical missions, and bazaars to teach people about what happens inside the jails.

The authorities taking care of the Maa City Jail also took their time to point out the problem with congestion inside the facility. Reportedly, there are about 2,852 PDLs in the jail that has only a capacity of 600.

However, the Deputy Warden is hopeful as there is currently a new correctional facility being constructed with a capacity of 5,000 PDLs. The warden added that after its construction, the Maa City Jail is set to transfer 80% of its PDLs to the facility.

He added that the prison system employs programs that aim to erase illiteracy and teach independence. This includes carpentry, hair cutting, massage, and other skills that could give PDLs an opportunity for a job once they get out of the system. Further, he is calling for more businesses to hire PDLs to help them get back on their feet.

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