DOJ eyes 5,000 released inmates by June 2023

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 6) — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Wednesday said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is “decentralizing the congested prison system” and aims to release 5,000 inmates by June 2023.

“I am personally committed to continuing regular releases and aim to have 5,000 released by June next year,” Remulla said in his speech during a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council session.

The Justice Secretary recalled that 371 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), many of whom had already served their sentences if not for procedural oversights, were released in September. 

Last month, 191 PDLs were released from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, 37 from the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong, and 143 from other prisons and penal farms in the country.

Remulla said the DOJ is “working closely” with the Department of Interior and Local Government and the Supreme Court through the Justice Sector Coordinating Council.

The council, Remulla said, is for “effective coordination and sharing of information, planning, and implementation of joint initiatives.”

In July, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said prison congestion has “significantly declined from 612% in 2017 to 387% as of June 2022.” But he added that more facilities should be built, which can be made possible through lot donations or long-term leases from LGUs. 

Remulla earlier named three attached agencies under the DOJ that he said are plagued with syndicates and other serious problems: the Bureau of Corrections, the Land Registration Authority, and the Bureau of Immigration. 

Before the session with the Human Rights Council, Remulla bared the Philippines' efforts to boost human rights mechanisms during a recent meeting with UN Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif in Geneva, Switzerland.