MANILA — Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) who already recovered from varying mental health issues while inside the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) cannot immediately return to jail due to the absence of a court order.
“Kailangan po kasi ng BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) ng court order… na na-admit po sila sa NCMH with court order. Ito po 'yung mga na-found o kinailangang i-check ng court na kailangang mag-undergo ng mental health intervention before they can stand fit for trial,” said Chief Inspector Jayrex Bustinera, BJMP's spokesperson.
“Kami naman po sa BJMP, immediately upon receipt ng order, kung may court order po 'yan na kukunin na po doon sa NCMH, ay agad-agad naman po 'yang ibinabalik sa jail facilities. Kailangan na rin po nilang mag-trial o mag-hearing,” he added.
Bustinera issued this clarification weeks after Sen. Raffy Tulfo conducted a surprise inspection inside the NCMH, with the latter taking note of the seeming overcrowded pavilions inside the Center.
Among those noted by Tulfo was Pavillion Number 4 with a maximum capacity of 300 patients, but in actuality, has become a ward for almost 600 patients with pending criminal cases.
In a previous interview, NCMH Chief Dr. Noel Reyes blamed the snail pace “transition” process that the BJMP observes in getting back their PDLs from the Center’s custody.
"Sana mabilis 'yung tradition namin na if ever we found the patient to be able to be competent enough to stand the rigors of trial, then sunduin na sana, then go back to jail so the case will progress… the BJMP probably... has some fund issue to have this but that should be addressed also because that is part of the rights of the patient,” Reyes, in an April 4 interview with ABS-CBN News, said.
Reyes said at least 200 PDLs or patients were already fully recovered, but remain under their care due to the BJMP’s delay in getting these people back to jail.
“There are long staying patients there. NCMH could not do anything to discharge them because they are admitted through a commitment order from the court… upon checking, almost 200 of those patients were already given a certificate to go back to jail so their case would progress,” he said.
"It’s too long that some of those patients here, if they are found guilty, have already served whatever sentence they have. Sumobra pa nga minsan. But because they are here, the case would remain open,” he added.
The BJMP is still in the process of validating their turned-over PDLs, as well as those subject to “transition,” which means patients needing to be transported back to their respective jail facilities.
But for the first three months of this year alone, the BJMP has referred a total of 283 PDLs for psychiatric evaluation.
Of this number, 198 were referred to the NCMH but only 19 were finally admitted to the facility, after a more thorough psychiatric evaluation, according to Bustinera.
Of the 283 referred PDLs, 256 were male while 27 were female, he said.
Furthermore, 70 percent of these PDLs are linked to drug-related cases, Bustinera said.
Meanwhile, majority of their referred PDLs to the NCMH come from Metro Manila, CALABARZON and Central Luzon, the official said.
“Nakipag-ugnayan po kami sa NCMH and we are still waiting for their response, kung ilan na po 'yung actual na andun from BJMP,” the official said.
“Nung nabalitaan din namin 'yan during the said inspection of Sen. Tulfo, eh agad-agad din pong nag-inventory kami. And we found out na 'yung mga [PDLs sa] NCMH po ay we are awaiting the court orders. Hindi po kasi pwedeng mag-move ng isang inmate o ng isang PDL from jail to NCMH or other medical facility or from the medical facility back to the jail, kung wala pong court order,” he further explained.
Aside from seeking a court order, the other option to receive back a PDL or patient, is for the BJMP to seek a court clearance for a concerned PDL, after they receive a notification from the NCMH about a ward’s recovery.
“Nage-effort po ang BJMP dyan kaya lang po may delay po talaga sa issuance ng [court order] natin,” Bustinera said.
The spokesperson also assured the PDL or patients’ relatives that their mental health concerns are being addressed by the BJMP through the help of the NCMH.
“Hindi po sila fit mag-undergo ng trial until matapos po nila 'yung gamutan po nila. May pending pa po sila, at hindi naman po sila pinapabayaan. At kung matatapos na po 'yung gamutan nila at may court order na po sa amin na ibalik na sila sa piitan namin, itutuloy po natin ang kaso nila para sila po ay makalaya,” Bustinera said.
“Ngayon po may mga directive na po kami sa mga jail facility na mag-check na po ng kanilang mga na-refer sa NCMH. Even 'yung iba, lakarin na po nila yung court order. Makipag-ugnayan na po sila. Para matulungan din po namin ang NCMH na malakad po ang kanilang mga court order,” he added.