Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "Our attention is focused on the condition of our brothers and sisters who are in prison, deprived of their liberty and deprived of their most basic human rights, we are all aware, for example, of the fact that many of our prisons are congested beyond the normal capacity for detention, creating inhuman conditions of life. Many prisoners fall ill but do not have medical assistance": says to Agenzia Fides, Bishop Joel Baylon, president of the Commission for prison pastoral care of the Philippine bishops' Conference, after visiting New Bilibid prison in Manila.
"Not many of us have had the opportunity to visit a prison even once in a lifetime. Pope Francis warned against the hypocrisy to see prisoners only as criminals" the Bishop recalled . "But it is important to know the reality of our prisons and the requests for help of prisoners, because they are human beings, with dignity and rights", he said.
The Prisons Commission carries out a work of advocacy "to tell our leaders to do something to alleviate the conditions of life of prisoners and to respect and support their fundamental human rights", explains Bishop Baylon, illustrating the ministry of local Churches and the program of human, social and spiritual apostolate promoted by the Church. The Commission for Prison Pastoral Care coordinates the apostolate in prisons at a national level, with the approach of "bringing prisoners the light of God's mercy and compassion".
The Church of the Philippines celebrated the 31st "Prison awareness week" from 22nd to 28th October 2018, sensitizing the whole People of God on the theme: "Lord, may I see, hear and act on the request for help of your people".
Various cultural, liturgical and charitable activities, exhibitions and visits of various groups and organizations were held at the prison of New Bilibid, also distributing basic necessities to prisoners. The 26,907 prisoners in prison are mostly very poor, sick and elderly.
Eli Rowdy Y. Lumbo, SJ, executive director of the "Philippine Jesuit Prison Service" - which promotes dignity in all those in prison - says: "We have invited people to share a holistic rehabilitation program that goes beyond mere punishment for lawbreakers". The Jesuit organization has been fighting for restorative justice since 1994. According to 2018 data, there are more than 160,000 prisoners in various prisons in the nation, according to recent studies, the prisons in the Philippines are the most congested in the world. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 29/10/2018)