President Benigno S. Aquino III greets His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo following the Thanksgiving Mass in celebration of his elevation to the College of Cardinals at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Quezon Avenue, Cotabato City on Tuesday (March 11). Cardinal Quevedo received his red hat and ring from Pope Francis during a solemn consistory at the St. Peter’s Basilica on February 22, 2014. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III greets His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo following the Thanksgiving Mass in celebration of his elevation to the College of Cardinals at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Quezon Avenue, Cotabato City on Tuesday (March 11). Cardinal Quevedo received his red hat and ring from Pope Francis during a solemn consistory at the St. Peter’s Basilica on February 22, 2014. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines asked President Benigno Aquino III to grant early releases to incapacitated and sick prisoners for humanitarian reasons.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care chairman Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak made the appeal as the country observes National Correctional Consciousness Week from Oct. 20 to 26.

“Their families have exhausted all the resources available to them to finance their medical bills,” he said.

The CBCP noted the Board of Pardons and Parole oversees 400 visitor-less, indigent, sick and old (VISO) inmates, yet recommended only 40 cases for executive clemency.

According to Tumulak, many of the inmates and their families have endured incarceration for several years, especially those who are ailing.

He said the prison ministry and its volunteers with its limited resources have provided support for their needs.

“More than this problem, the VISO prisoners are longing to be free. They have sought our help on this matter,” he said.

Tumulak urged Aquino to grant the plea of the Board of Pardons and Parole for the 40 inmates as a “humanitarian act.” (MNS)