5 Pinoy inmates in HK want to be jailed in PH

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Consul Paul Saret

FIVE Filipino inmates in Hong Kong have asked the government that they be allowed to serve their jail sentences in the Philippines, according to a Philippine Consulate General (PCG) official.

Consul Paul Saret, head of the PCG-Assistance to Nationals Section, said the five male inmates want to be transferred to Philippine jails so that their families could readily visit them.

“We have a Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement (TSPA) with Hong Kong so there are five who want to be transferred because they’re serving long-term jail sentences,” Saret told Hong Kong News.

He said the inmates were convicted of drug trafficking and are serving jail sentences of five to nine years.

“I asked them if they are not having second thoughts since the jail facilities here are different from those back home. They said they can’t deny that the facilities here are better but because they want to be near their families so they’re willing to sacrifice the comfort of these facilities,” Saret said.

He noted that inmates in Hong Kong had relatively comfortable jail facilities, could earn some money doing tailoring, furniture-making and other crafts while in prison, or even earn an educational degree.

Inmates with a medical condition are also given free treatment while they are in prison here in Hong Kong.

Saret said that if the petitions of the five inmates were approved, it would be the first time that Filipino inmates in Hong Kong are brought back to the Philippines to serve their jail terms there.

“No one is depressed among them. They say that if they only have three years remaining (in their sentences), they would stay here,” Saret said.

“But if it’s five years or more, they said they won’t mind the sacrifice so that their families could visit them,” he added.

Saret said the five Filipino inmates were qualified under the terms of the 2002 TSPA agreement between Manila and Hong Kong since they had no more civil liabilities here in HK and are just serving out their jail terms.

He said the Department of Justice in Manila would coordinate with Hong Kong’s Security Bureau if the transfer applications are approved.

“But they have a specific time period within which the application should be approved. If it’s not approved on time, then the applicant would have to go through the whole process again,” Saret said.

He said that as of early April, there were a total of 93 Filipino inmates in Hong Kong’s prison system. Consulate officials visited the inmates in Hong Kong’s different prisons recently.

“They said they were okay with their food and how they were being treated,” Saret said.

He said those serving long-term jail sentences, mostly for drug trafficking offenses, accounted for less than 30 percent of inmates.

“The majority are on remand or were caught overstaying or for theft. But most were jailed for immigration offenses,” Saret said.

“There record here in Hong Kong is not forwarded to the Philippines. So when they go home, they have a clean slate,” he added.

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