Families of high-risk inmates appeal to SC amid the pandemic

Published July 14, 2020, 7:05 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Families of “political prisoners” have sent letters asking Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to act on their petition seeking the release of their loved ones in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a July 7 resolution, the Supreme Court noted these letters that asked it to rule with compassion and exigency on the petition.

One of those who wrote to the SC was Aprille Joy who pleaded for consideration to be extended to the elderly, sick, and other at-risk prisoners like her father, Ireneo Atadeo, Jr.

“We are concerned about his health condition especially now that the virus continues to spread and we are still uncertain  when this pandemic will end. It has been months since we last saw him. It is heartbreaking that we cannot be with my father during this time of pandemic,” she wrote.

Jeanette Birondo-Goddard, a sister of another detainee, cited the terrifying effects of the pandemic should be enough for the SC to issue a decision on the matter.

Human rights group Karapatan submitted a petition to the SC in April to ask for the release of high-risk detainees to protect them from COVID-19 infection in jails.

“While we take hope that with the issued resolution…we pressed our call for exigency as too many prisoners’ lives have already been lost while more are in peril,” Karapatan spokesperson Fides Lim said.

Marites Asis, mother of Reina Mae Nasino, also sent letters to SC, but these were not cited in the resolution.

Nasino had returned to the female dormitory of the Manila City Jail with her newborn baby after she gave birth on July 1 at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila.

Asis expressed fears for the safety of her daughter and grandchild inside prison because of the health risks posed by COVID-19.

“I’m again appealing to your kind heart to release my daughter,” she said.