Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima commended all jail and prison volunteers for investing their time and energy not only to guarantee that Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) receive humane treatment while in prison but also to ensure that the latter become closer to God.
In her message for the celebration of the 34th Prison Awareness Week, De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said the love and compassion shown to PDLs help them heal and regain hope amid their ordeal.
“Isa ang malinaw: Maayos man o hindi ang pasilidad ng isang kulungan, hindi haba ng sentensya o taon ng pagkakulong ang muling bubuo sa isang bilanggo, kundi ang pakiramdam na may halaga ang kanyang buhay, may pag-asa pa, at may lunas sa kanyang pagkalugmok upang muling ibangon ang sarili,” she said.
“Pagmamahal, pag-asa at kumakalingang kapwa sa isang komunidad na sentro ang Diyos ang magpapabilis sa paghilom at pagbangon. Kasama nina father at bishop, sobrang laki ng tulong at ambag ng ating mga jail and prison volunteers, kayo po, upang ang komunidad sa loob ng bilangguan ay maging makatao, maging mapagkalinga at walang diskriminasyon,” she added.
De Lima’s message was read by her Chief-of-Staff, Atty. Fhillip D. Sawali, during the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care’s (CBCP-ECPPC) celebration of the Prison Awareness Week.
Observed from Oct. 25-31, this year’s theme is “The Jail/Prison Chaplains and Volunteers: Gifted to Give Love the Restore Life, Hope and Healing to the Prison Community.”
De Lima maintained that, no matter how small, any efforts done to help PDLs and others who are suffering improve their lives can make a big difference.
“Kaya sa inyo pong mga jail and prison volunteers, maraming salamat sa pagtataya ng oras, talento at higit sa lahat pagpapakilala sa Poong Maykapal sa ating mga bilanggo, sa kawang-gawa na pinakikilos ng pagmamahal sa kapwa,” she said.
“Gaya nga ng sinabi ni Vice President Leni: walang maliit na ambag; lahat mahalaga. Kailangan nating lingunin ang ating kapwa. Sila man ay nasa lansangan, sakahan, o maging sa bilangguan. Dahil ang pagmamahal ng Diyos ay walang pinipiling lugar,” she added.
A human rights and social justice champion who has continually fought for much needed reforms in the country’s prison and correctional systems, De Lima vowed that she will not stop working to improve the plight of PDLs.
“Asahan po ninyong ako rin ay kasama ninyo sa laban upang mapagbuti ang trato sa ating mga bilanggo at maisaayos ang ating correctional system. May mga panukalang batas po tayo na nagsusulong ng kumprehensibong prison and jail reforms, at paggalang sa mga babaeng preso. Bahagi po ito ng ating agenda para sa karapatang pantao at hustisyang panlipunan,” she said.
This 18th Congress, De Lima refiled her bills from the 17th Congress, logged as Proposed Senate Bills No. 180 and 181, that both aim to implement comprehensive reforms in the country’s prison and correctional systems.
SB No. 180 seeks to institutionalize prison reform and restorative justice in the country’s correctional system to ensure the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates while according full respect of their rights.
SB No. 181, on the other hand, seeks to unify corrections and management system by centralizing the management of all prisons and jails under a single government authority to be called National Commission on Corrections and Jail Management.
De Lima also filed SB No. 378 seeking to protect female detainees from sexual harassment and other forms of abuse in the course of their incarceration, stressing that women constitute a vulnerable group in detention or prison facilities. (30)