THE Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is calling for the continued respect for the rights of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) as well as the assurance of their safety inside correctional facilities.

In its statement for Prison Awareness Sunday, the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) said it is imperative for all stakeholders to ensure that PDL rights are respected and that they are kept safe while undergoing correction.

"We pray that in their respective (correctional) communities, our PDLs may experience and be afforded human respect, and freedom from all forms of injustice and harm," said CBCP-ECPPC Chairman Bishop Joel Baylon.

"This is so that everyone (from the officers, wardens, guards, and inmates, among others) may experience a listening, healing, and loving community," he added.

Baylon's statement comes more than a week after the alleged middleman in the assassination of broadcaster Percy Lapid, Jun Villamor, was found dead inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), where he was detained.

Recent autopsy findings by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun indicated that the manner of Villamor’s death was homicide since there was a history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.

The church also renewed its call for those in authority to forego any plans to revive capital punishment in the Philippines.

"May this event help us to listen that what is needed is not death penalty but a justice system that will help rebuild the human person," said Baylon.

The prelate asked the faithful to discontinue stigmatizing PDLs, including those that have been freed from imprisonment.

"What they need is not a negative judgment that will forever imprison them to the stigma of their incarceration. What these PDLs need are understanding and respect for them as human beings," said Baylon.

Prison Awareness Sunday is observed every last Sunday of October.

The event marks a day to remember and respond to the needs of those in jails and prisons. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)