WE SUPPORT the appeal of Kapatid, a group of families and relatives of political prisoners, to the government to release the sick, elderly and “low-level” prisoners. Releasing them is a Christian and compassionate gesture in the midst of the pandemic, especially since massive testing in the country is still not in place.
Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, NCCP general secretary, expressed grave concern for the prisoners amid the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country. Bishop Marigza said: “Current measures in prisons are clearly insufficient. Without massive testing, the overcrowded prisons in the country is a health disaster waiting to happen. We cannot simply accept what the Bureau of Corrections is saying that prisons in the country are still free of cases of Covid-19 even though tests were not administered there. Before disaster strikes, set them free!”
According to Bureau of Corrections January statistics, its prison facilities are overcrowded by 310 percent as 49, 114 inmates occupy prisons that have a maximum capacity of 11, 981 persons. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has already admitted that a single Covid-19 case inside could cause “calamitous effects.” (The National Council of Churches in the Philippines)