MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has remanded to the trial courts the petition of 22 high-risk, mostly sickly or senior citizen detainees who may be temporarily released to avoid being infected by COVID-19.
“The issues involved [in the petition] are factual,” a court insider said.
COVID-19 is an acute, sometimes severe, respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2. It can be transmitted through droplets when a person coughs, sneezes or talks.
The government has instituted measures to prevent the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, which is a problem inside crowded jail facilities making high-risk detainees like the elderly, sickly and pregnant prone to infection.
In this case, petitioners are mostly elderly with health conditions such as hypertension, asthma, cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, emphysema. A 21-year-old inmate has leprosy while Reina Mae Nasino has already given birth early this month. She and her baby are now at the Manila City Jail.
The source said trial courts where their cases are pending were ordered to resolve the PDLs’ petition “with dispatch.”
The petition was filed by the high-risk detainees last April. In their petition, the PDLs also asked the SC to compel the government to create a Prisoner Release Committee, “similar to those set up in other countries, to urgently study and implement the release of all other prisoners in various congested prisons throughout the country…” [ac]
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