DoJ told to address jail congestion 

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

A LAWMAKER on Wednesday asked the Department of Justice (DoJ) to review the cases of inmates who have served more time than necessary, which is one of the causes of prison congestion. 

“Some of the accused are serving more time in detention than what their sentence provides,” Party-list Rep. France L. Castro told a House of Representatives hearing on the agency’s budget. “Can the DoJ please review these cases?” 

She also asked government prosecutors to dismiss trumped-up cases against activists for lack of probable cause.  

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said he had ordered the Public Attorney’s Office, whose 2023 budget was increased by 6% to P5.03 billion, to look for inmates eligible for parole. 

The House committee on appropriations also asked the DoJ to detail its plan to relocate the national penitentiary from Muntinlupa City. 

The Budget department has proposed a P28.19-billion budget for DoJ next year, 11.7% higher than this year. 

With 215,000 prisoners nationwide, Philippine jails and prisons are overfilled more than five times their official capacity, making it the most overcrowded prison system in the world, according to the World Prison Brief (WPB). 

As of 2017, it had 933 jails — seven national prisons and 926 city, district, municipal and provincial jails, which are not enough to contain inmates, three-quarters of whom are at the pretrial stage, WPB said on its website. 

Many jails in the Philippines fail to meet the minimum United Nations standards given inadequate food, poor nutrition and unsanitary conditions. — K.A. Bulan