TRANSFER SENTENCED PRISONER
The Indonesian government sent a delegation to the Philippines recently to discuss the merits and processes involved in the matter of transferring sentenced prisoner, specifically their fellow national, back to their homeland. And consequently, how Indonesia can facilitate Filipinos in their penal facilities who also wanted to the return to the Philippines, even if only to serve out the penalty in their country’s penal establishment. Earlier, the Philippines have concluded specific treaties with four countries along this line. There is an operational transfer sentenced prisoner agreement with Thailand, HongKong, Canada and Spain. The government pursuant to a Department of Justice circular (DOJ Circular No. 90 dated December 6, 2010) is encouraging similar arrangements with other countries also.
And here is the catch. Any foreign national who has committed a violation of Philippine law and as such penalized to serve time (read: imprisoned) if allowed to serve time in his home country must as a rule serve the remaining part of his sentence pursuant to the same stretch required by Philippine law. It is as if he is continually serving his time in the country, although in effect he is transferred to the penitentiary of his mother country.
The transfer of sentenced prisoner does not end with the transfer. It ends after the Philippine government grants the release of the prisoner. The arrangement is that the transfer strictly speaking does not amend in any way the period for which the prisoner will have to serve in his home country. There is no such arrangement as conversion or even remission. Conversion is when the authority of the mother country would substantially alter the sentence of the prisoner. In remission, when a portion of the sentence would be reduced. It is only the country whose laws were violated and whose sentencing scheme that should be followed.
In the so called Larranaga case( where a local boy from Cebu, along with several juvenile, were all charged for the violation and death of another juvenile girl, and eventually sentenced to Life Imprisonment) , a situation arose where one of the convict is a Spaniard citizen. After the country has concluded a treaty with Spain on transfer sentenced prisoner, his relatives immediately petitioned Philippine government for the transfer of said prisoner to Spain. After a series of evaluative conferences, coordination, linkages and submission of technical requirements from both countries, in about four months, the transfer was conducted.
According to DOJ files, there are several petitions/ requests filed by Filipino prisoners in HongKong for purposes of transfer. When some inmates learned that HongKong corrective service is applying more days off from the sentence greater than that which Philippine government grants its inmates, some application for TSP were conveniently stalled by the petitioners themselves. This of course is a misconception on the fine print of the agreement. It is still Hongkong computation and releasing period that would be reckoned in the final analysis.
If this would be the corrective trend in the criminal justice administration of most countries specially those where a number of Filipinos are serving time, then it is signal enough to expand the penal facilities of the country. As it were, it is already filled to the brim.