A GROUP has asked the Supreme Court to push for the adoption of the Writ of Kalayaan as an extraordinary remedy for political prisoners.
Fides Lim, spokesperson of Kapatid, a group providing support for the family of political prisoners, urged Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta to make the SC a “humane court” by giving consideration to the needs and conditions of sick and elderly prisoners.
“Don’t be a passive court, be an active, humane court. This is an issue not only about political prisoners but all prisoners who are elderly, very sick, pregnant, nursing mothers. We ask you to release more prisoners,” Lim said.
Lim said the SC should accept the call of Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to promulgate the rules on the Writ of Kalyaan.
The Writ of Kalayaan , according to Leonen, should serve as a continuing mandamus to address jail congestion.
A group of 22 political prisoners in April filed a petition seeking for their release through bail, recognizance or other measures aimed at decongesting prison and detention amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, in a ruling issued last July, the SC decided to toss to the trial courts the petition.
In referring the petition to the trial courts, the SC said they were unanimous in treating the petition as an application by petitioners for bail, recognizance, as well as for other applicable and suitable confinement arrangements in connection with the threats to the health and lives of the petitioners.
The court also note that the petitioners have all been charged with offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua, thus, disqualified from being granted bail.
In order to be granted bail, the Court ruled that a hearing is necessary and that evidence should be submitted to support such plea.
Despite this, Lim said that they are glad that through the petition, they were “able to put the subhuman condition of Filipino prisoners on the front burner,” noting that the government was pressed to take urgent healthcare measures in detention facilities.
“We are glad to have compelled judicial and executive agencies to open the prison doors for a claimed number of 33,000 PDLs although there is not a shadow of a political prisoner in these releases,” she said.