BuCor releases 234 inmates from Leyte prison

ABUYOG, Leyte -- The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has released at least 234 inmates from the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte, as part of the government’s effort to decongest prison facilities.

BuCor Director General Benjamin De Los Santos led on Friday, March 17, the distribution of certificates of discharge to the 234 inmates of the colony, who qualified to gain freedom under the special time allowance for loyalty (STAL).

“We started with 27 elderly inmates granted with executive clemency. Just this week, we released another 39. So far, this is the biggest. This is not just decongestion, but speeding up the process,” De Los Santos told reporters.

Jail Superintendent Geraldo Aro said the 234 who qualified for STAL were "prisoners who chose to stay in the place of their confinement notwithstanding the existence of a calamity or catastrophe enumerated."

“They have an opportunity to escape after Super Typhoon Yolanda badly damaged our prison facility and post towers, but they stayed here,” Aro recalled.

At least 15 released inmates are senior citizens, most of them are already overstaying in the penal colony.

“We created a task force to expedite the processing of documents because some inmates die even before their release. We have to modernize and reform our records management,” De los Santos added.

Andres Estacio, 73, was very happy to receive his discharge paper after being imprisoned at the Leyte Regional Prison for six years for an attempted rape case.

“I am very excited to see my family in Tondo. I don’t want to commit mistakes again because I am very old now,” Estacio said. The BuCor provided him transportation allowance from Leyte to Metro Manila.

Established on January 16, 1973, the prison facility is situated in Mahagna village, this town, some 66 kilometers from Tacloban City, the regional capital. The colony is within a 861.66-hectare forested area, 20 kilometers south from Abuyog town center.

At present, the facility has more than 1,900 inmates, more than double than its capacity.

The penal colony was built to confine and rehabilitate convicted criminals classified as national prisoners whose sentences range from three years and one day imprisonment or above. (PNA)