BPP relaxes rules on executive clemency, parole to decongest penal institutions
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the resolution of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) that widens the coverage and reduces some requirements when applying for parole and clemency.
BPP Board Resolution No. OT-04-15-2020 dated April 15, 2020, prioritizes persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are considered “vulnerable” such as the old, sickly, or are suffering from terminal or life-threatening illnesses with a serious disability.
Under the Interim Rules on Parole and Executive Clemency, those who can apply are inmates 65 years and above if they have served at least five years of their sentence, those whose continued detention will put their health at risk as recommended by the physician from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and certified by the Department of Health (DOH) or designated by the Malacañang Clinic.
The resolution was issued as part of its measure to decongest national penitentiaries to ensure the safety of other PDLs and staff while the country is fighting the spread of COVID-19.
The BPP resolution also simplifies the requirements and procedure for the processing of applications for parole and executive clemency by dispensing with most of the documentary except for the Court Certifications of No Pending Case and No Pending Appeal and a check on the records of the PDL at the National Bureau of Investigation.
The resolution also mandates the Board to double the number of caseloads for review and deliberation during its meetings to expedite the processing of applications.
“The general requirements for eligibility for parole remains. But those who are not eligible may apply for clemency if they meet the criteria set under the resolution,” DOJ undersecretary and spokesman Markk Perete said.
“Note also that the part of the resolution allowing applications by those 65 years old and above with the conditions stated is new. So this is not just easing of the process but to some extent, relaxation of the rules,” Perete added.
The resolution further dispenses with the requirement for parolees and pardonees to report to parole and probation officers while the State of National Emergency remains effective.
The simplified requirements and procedures will apply to applications of PDLs qualified for parole or clemency.
However, the resolution has excluded PDLs convicted of heinous crimes or in cases involving illegal drugs, or those classified as high risk by the Bureau of Corrections.
Perete said it would be up to the Office of the Solicitor General to determine if the resolution will form part of the compliance to be submitted to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has required the government to comment on a petition to release inmates that are at high risk of getting infected with COVID-19.
Currently, of the seven penitentiaries under the BuCor, the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) has reported 19 inmates infected with COVID-19 plus one staff. CIW has over 3,000 inmates.
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