Press Release
December 6, 2015


Independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero expressed hope that President Aquino will consider granting executive clemency to deserving prisoners in time for this year's Christmas season.

And if he does, the President should give priority to the elderly and terminally ill inmates for humanitarian reasons, Escudero said.

"These people should be treated with compassion, just like any other citizen of the country who needs special attention," Escudero pointed out. "I believe it is only fair and just to grant them clemency and let them spend Christmas with their families."

He added: "Staying in our overcrowded jails will only aggravate the poor situation of the senior citizens and those under critical health conditions."

Escudero noted that the last time the Chief Executive used his clemency power was in December 2012 when he ordered to free eight elderly inmates, whose ages range from 71 to 85 years.

He said it has been the practice of Malacañang to grant executive clemency to prisoners during the Christmas season.

Executive clemency refers to "reprieve, absolute pardon, conditional pardon with or without parole conditions and commutation of sentence as may be granted by the President of the Philippines."

Before the visit of Pope Francis in the country in January, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has asked Aquino to grant clemency to sick, old, and abandoned prisoners in line with the theme of the visit, "Mercy and Compassion."

However, no pardon was granted even after the pontiff's state and pastoral visit.

As of October this year, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has already forwarded 704 cases to the Board of Pardons and Parole for review. Of this number 18 are senior citizens while six are terminally ill.

The BuCor said that since 2010, the President has already issued 54 clemency decisions.

According to the latest BuCor figures, there are over 38,000 prisoners confined in seven national detention facilities across the country in 2013.

The New Bilibid Prisons, with its 8,500 capacity, has a total population of over 22,000 prisoners. In 2013, the overall congestion rate in national prisons was at 139 percent.

On the one hand, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology said there are more than 94,000 prisoners in city, municipal, district and provincial jails in the country, as of September this year.

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