The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, July 21, directed all trial court judges to order the detention of suspected criminal offenders in the facilities of the Philippine National Police (PNP) instead of incarcerating them in the jails managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
In a circular issued by Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez, the SC said the directive to trial court judges is effective starting Wednesday, July 22, and will be implemented until Aug. 31, 2020 unless extended “if warranted.”
Marquez said Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Ano requested the SC “that the issuance of commitment orders (to the facilities of the BJMP be temporarily suspended… to prevent the further contamination (of Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19) among PDLs (Persons Deprived of Liberty) in all jail units nationwide.”
He said PNP Chief Director General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, on the other hand, has issued an undertaking that “the PNP can, in the meantime, accommodate newly arrested PDLs.”
Thus, the circular mandates that “all judges shall issue commitment orders for newly arrested PDLs… until 31 August 2020, to the local PNP units, unless the local BJMP jail units are already able to admit newly arrested PDLs during this period.”
Published reports stated that there are more than 215,000 PDLs in 933 detention centers nationwide.
Jails managed by the Bureau of Corrections have more than 36,900 prisoners in seven penal colonies, while about 21,000 inmates are detained at the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.