Release the sick,
elderly, and “low-level” prisoners amid COVID19 crisis - NCCP
March 20, 2020
METRO MANILA –
Church group National Council of Churches in the Philippines
supported 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. The NCCP said 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
Bishop Reuel Norman O.
Marigza, NCCP General Secretary, expressed grave concern for the
prisoners amid the rising number of 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
Guevarra has already admitted that a single COVID-19 case inside
could cause “calamitous effects”.
“Besides, the call for
release is selective, only those who will definitely suffer like the
sick and the elderly and of course, the prisoners of conscience who
have been wrongfully imprisoned because of their political beliefs”,
Bishop Marigza added.
The call for the release
of prisoners came in the wake of Iran’s gesture to free thousands of
its prisoners. The heavily congested prisons in the country are full
of detainees that come from the poor, especially after the
government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
The National Council of
Churches in the Philippines is the largest aggrupation of mainline
Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches in the country.