Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors will now recommend reduced bail for indigent persons accused in bailable criminal cases filed before the courts to ease up congestions in prison facilities nationwide.
Only P10,000 or 50 percent of the recommended bail under the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 2018 Bail Bond Guide, whichever is lower, will be recommended by government prosecutors.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said that with the reduced bail, many detained individuals – particularly indigent persons – would be released on bail.
Remulla explained that many criminal cases filed in courts against indigent persons are bailable but they “are unable to afford the amount set by the courts upon the recommendation of the prosecutors.”
In Department Circular No. 011 issued on Feb. 20, 2023, Secretary Remulla said:
“After the conduct of inquest or preliminary investigation proceedings, the investigating prosecutor finds probable cause with a reasonable certainty of conviction against the indigent respondent, he or she shall indicate in the criminal information only fifty percent (50%) of the recommended bail as stated in the 2018 Bail Bond Guide, or the amount of ten thousand pesos (P10,000), whichever is lower.
“In all cases pending before the first or second level Courts, the trial prosecutor is duty-bound to ensure that only applications for release on recognizance by accused who are qualified and comply with the requirements of Republic Act No. 10389 or the Recognizance Act of 2012 shall be submitted for consideration of the courts. When accused is charged with crimes punishable by death, reclusion perpetua, or life imprisonment, he shall be deemed disqualified.
“These guidelines shall apply to all cases undergoing inquest or preliminary investigation proceedings.”
The circular was addressed to Prosecutor General A. Malcontento and the DOJ’s National Prosecution Service (NPS).
Remulla said that “at the start of the inquest or preliminary investigation proceeding, the investigating prosecutor shall inquire from respondent whether or not he or she claims indigency.”
He said the respondent should also prove that he or she is not a habitual, delinquent or recidivist.
Among the documents the indigent respondent should submit to prove indigency are the latest income tax return or pay slip, or other suitable proof of income; certificate of indigency from the Department of Social Welfare and Development; certificate of indigency or no income from the office of the Punong Barangay or Barangay Chairperson who has jurisdiction over the residence of the person.
In a statement, Remulla said: “Makakatulong ito sa ating mga kababayan na kadalasang naaapi sa dating sistema (this will help our countrymen who have been oppressed most of the time from the former system).”
“Ngayon, binibigyan natin ng importansya sa batas ang mga karaniwang tao. Hindi dapat ginagamit ang systema ng hustisya para guluhin ang buhay ng tao. Doon tayo sa tama, doon tayo sa karapat-dapat lamang (Now, we are giving importance to ordinary people under the law. The justice system should not be used to disrupt the lives of people. We are for what is right, we are for what is just),” he said.
With the new circular, Remulla said the DOJ “expects the release of many detained individuals on bail.”
Remulla had earlier directed prosecutors that “only quality criminal cases backed by credible evidence will be filed in court” or those cases “with reasonable certainty of conviction.”
He explained that the new circular on bail was discussed during a dialogue held last Jan. 27 by members of the Justice Sector Coordinating Council (JSCC) that included the Supreme Court (SC), the DOJ, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
During the JSCC dialogue, the DOJ brought up the problem of overpopulation and congestion in jail and prison facilities which, he cited, has been the root cause of problems at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) that included corruption, smuggling of contrabands, and inmate entitlement.
“The Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo then proposed revisiting the existing 2018 Bail Bond Guide,” he recounted.
The 2018 Bail Bond Guide was adopted by the DOJ based on criteria and standards set under Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure.
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