Supreme Court orders all judges to conduct jail visits due to extreme heat

Supreme Court orders all judges to conduct jail visits due to extreme heat

THE Supreme Court's Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) has ordered additional jail visits in response to the ongoing heat wave across the Philippines and check the condition of inmates or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).

Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, in OCA Circular 131-2024 dated May 2, 2024, directed all judges "to conduct jail visitation at least once within their respective jurisdictions on any day," not later than May 31, "for the sole purpose of determining how PDLs are affected by this heat wave."

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has reported dangerously high heat indices in recent days.

This visit is in addition to the regular quarterly jail visits mandated by OCA Circular 01-2024.

According to the OCA, Judges must submit court jail visitation and inspection Reports to their executive judges within five days of the visits.

Executive judges and judges of single sala Regional Trial Court stations must then submit consolidated reports to the Court Management Office, OCA, within five days of receiving reports from lower courts.

The OCA directive emphasizes the need for urgent action to address concerns about PDLs' health and safety during the heat wave.

Earlier, the OCA issued Circular 93-2024, dated April 4, 2024, setting the working hours for court operations from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. until May 31, 2024, due to the extreme heat indices.

Most of the jail facilities in the Philippines are managed by the the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). As of September 2022, there were 477 jail facilities across 17 regions in the Philippines. Calabarzon has the highest number of jails at 65.

In Central Visayas, the BJMP manages at least 41 jail facilities, including the Cebu City Jail (CCJ) in Barangay Kalunasan. CCJ's neighbor, the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, is managed by the Provincial Government.

As of February 2024, the Philippines had around 126,000 inmates, with 69.51 percent (around 87,500) in preventive detention and 30.49 percent (around 38,400) convicted and sentenced. Preventive detention is when an alleged suspect is temporarily confined in jail while awaiting trial or investigation. (KAL)

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