“Juan, Malaya Ka Na!” – A Project to Decongest Marikina City Jail

Rotary Year 2013-2014 | President Nicanor “Nick” B. Baterina

The website of the Philippines’ Bureau of Jail Management & Penology (BJMP) shows that, for the month of May 2012, NCR (National Capital Region to which Marikina City falls under) had an actual jail population of 18,107 against an ideal capacity of 4,361, translating to 315% congestion. Nationwide, the jail congestion rate was 318% for the same month.

For the purpose of eliminating unnecessary detention, the Executive Judges of courts are required to conduct monthly inspections and submit reports to the Court Administrator which shall state the number of detainees, their period of detention, the crime charged, status of the case, among others. Sadly, because of the clogged dockets of the courts and because of inadequate legal representation, there is no proper monitoring done and the matter is not brought to the timely attention of the Courts.

The project, “JUAN, MALAYA KA NA!” (“Juan, You are Now Free!”) is a humanitarian project implemented solely by the Rotary Club of Marikina West to serve a dual objective: 1) to provide free legal aid to qualified criminal defendants who are currently languishing in the Marikina City Jail unjustifiably beyond the legal period for which they should be held in preventive detention; and 2) as a means to help decongest the over-crowded Marikina City Jail. This Peace-&-Conflict-Resolution project was conceptualized during the previous Rotary Year (theme: Peace Through Service) and actively continued this current RY.

All the 14 court branches of Marikina City held simultaneous promulgation of cases on December 13, 2013, a day the judiciary named Judgment Day. Prior to this day, all the lawyer-members of RC Marikina West, numbering ten, rendered pro-bono services reviewing the cases of various defendants. On such day, all these ten lawyer-members provided free legal representation. Eighteen members including the club’s ten lawyers, plus several spouses of the Rotary Club of Marikina West converged at the Hall of Justice of Marikina City. Court Administrator Atty. Jose Midas Marquez also came to the courtrooms to witness the proceedings.

The Judgment Day simultaneous promulgations eventually resulted to 112 releases and 14 convictions:
(a) Detention prisoners: (b) Accused out on bail/recognizance
1. dismissals – 23 1. dismissals – 18
2. discharged – 11 2. discharged – 2
3. acquitted – 33 3. acquitted – 25
4. convicted – 6 4. convicted – 8

Partner organizations/institutions for this project are the Regional Trial Courts of Marikina City, Metropolitan Trial Courts of Marikina City, Philippine National Police (PNP)-Marikina City, and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)-Marikina City Department.

This link contains photos taken on the Judgment Day: http://on.fb.me/1jgETll

The District deems this project to have done the following:

  1. addressed the significant problem of jail congestion even as it allows the release from detention of defendants who may have unnecessarily languished too long in jail,
  2. involvement of all ten lawyer-members in the review and defense of detainees/prisoners as well as the participation of 8 non-lawyer members and several spouses during the December 13, 2013 Judgment Day,
  3. While quite taxing, the 10 lawyer-members endeavored, with assistance of other lawyers in their respective law firms, to render the due time and attention in the defense of the cases to their conclusions,
  4. The partner organizations/institutions expressed profound appreciation to the RC Marikina West thereby enhancing the image of Rotary,
  5. This project, perhaps the first of its kind in the District, provides a template for other similarly situated clubs to emulate; further, RC Marikina West aims to conduct this as a yearly project, and
  6. While actively pursued in the current Rotary Year, this was conceptualized and initiated in the previous (Peace-Through-Service) RY.

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