Computers for inmates eyed

Fidel Nograles
Rizal, 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles.

A STALWART of Lakas-CMD vowed more efforts to provide more computers in jails nationwide.

Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, a lawyer by profession, said these computers can aid inmates with their legal consultations through videoconferencing.

Nograles said there are at least 4,000 inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDL)released in a week alone.

The Supreme Court revealed recently that 4,683 PDLs were released from April 30 to May 8 through video conference hearings. So far 9,731 inmates have been released over a period of six weeks through various circulars that the SC had issued to address jail congestion and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Pipilitin po natin na madagdagan pa ang mga computer sa mga kulungan natin sa buong bansa para narin magkaroon ng access ang mga PDL natin sa tulong legal,” Nograles said.

The Harvard-trained lawyer and legal aid advocate is the founder of Lakbay Hustisya Foundation, a legal aid trust fund organized to support legal aid activities around the Philippines.

Lakbay Hustisya works in partnership with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology for the “e-Dalaw” initiative, where PDLs are able to consult with lawyers despite the suspension of visitation rights in jails.

The group has distributed computers to jails in various areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

Nograles also lauded the Supreme Court for adapting to the circumstances forced by the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the Court, through the Office of the Court Administrator, issued OCA Circular No. 93-2020, which allows for virtual hearing by courts in extended community quarantine and general community quarantine areas of urgent matters in criminal cases involving PDLs.

Meanwhile, Nograles also agreed with SC Associate Justice MarvicLeonen’s statement that prison congestion is a responsibility shared by the whole of government and not solely by the judiciary.

Leonen, in an online media forum on Sunday, said that the issue of congestion in the country’s prisons and detention centers is the responsibility not only of the SC but also of local governments, the executive branch, and the legislature.