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Philippine bishops ask Duterte to release aging prisoners

Request for executive clemency would be a 'humanitarian act'

October 18, 2016

Catholic bishops in the Philippines are asking President Rodrigo Duterte for the "compassionate release" of aging and sick prisoners.

In a letter sent to the president on Oct. 17, the bishops' Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care said the inmates deserve a second chance.

"We would like to appeal to His Excellency to grant their plea for executive clemency," read the letter signed by Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak of the Military Ordinariate and chairman of the prison ministry.

The prelate said the release of prisoners would be a "humanitarian act" on the part of Duterte as the Catholic Church in the Philippines marks "Prison Awareness Week" starting Oct. 24.

The Catholic Church is also celebrating the "Jubilee of Prisoners" on Nov. 5.

"[The prisoners] and their families have been enduring the effect of incarceration for several years especially those who have been sick and are presently confined at the hospital," said Bishop Tumulak.

The prelate said the prisoners are "longing to be free" and have sought the bishops' help.

The Philippine Board of Pardons and Parole has already recommended the release of several inmates, many of them with ages ranging from 75 to 90 in seven national prisons.

There are about 85,000 prisoners in the Philippines.

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