The Philippines has released over 15,000 inmates to ease congestion in its notoriously overcrowded jails and halt the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), officials announced on Thursday.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the move proved that prisoners were not being neglected by the government, as the country scrambles to contain its COVID-19 outbreak.
Based on data released by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), a total of 15,322 inmates were released from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facilities between March 17 — a day after President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire island of Luzon in lockdown — and June 22.
A total of 5,910 of the freed inmates were from the National Capital Region; 2,598 from other parts of Luzon; 1,487 from Central Visayas; 897 from the Zamboanga Peninsula; 762 from Northern Mindanao, and the rest from other regions.
The DILG pointed out that the majority of those released were elderly, or who had committed light or bailable offenses.