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Philippines, UK sign prison-exchange treaty

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United Kingdom on Thursday signed a prison-exchange treaty that would allow prisoners to serve their sentences in their home country.

With the agreement, signed by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and UK Ambassador Laure Beaufils, Filipinos convicted in the UK have the option to serve the remaining years of their jail terms in the Philippines and also allow British expatriates to be sent back to their home country.

“It’s an option that we want to give them so that they can go home if they are abroad and are having difficulties with their situation,” Remulla said partly in Filipino in a press briefing.

Remulla clarified, though, that Filipinos detained in the UK will not be forced to go back to the Philippines, and may choose to stay on the grounds that their families are residing in the UK, among others.

He said the national government had agreed with the treaty because “it’s part of diplomacy,” adding that the Philippines has a similar agreement with Hong Kong, Thailand and Spain.

According to Remulla, it was the British government that initiated the treaty so they can bring back citizens imprisoned in the Philippines, including those who are “victims of circumstances and miscarriage of justice.”

“Even before the UK’s request, I know of many cases of British nationals who want to go home but cannot do so because they were stuck in the process of our judicial system,” he noted.