BJMP on red alert until Saturday

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2019   •   1636

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is on red alert status to ensure the safety and security of jails during the Lenten week.

The measure is in view of the expected surge of visitors this holiday, according to BJMP director Allan Iral.

“I directed all our regional directors to supervise their jurisdictions to accommodate visitors and prevent any untoward incident,” he said.

Meanwhile, the official said the leave privileges of the BJMP personnel manning all 476 jails across the country are cancelled during the Lenten break.

Iral also directed wardens to intensify security and safety measures by conducting incident management or contingency plans in case of any untoward incidents while some inmates participate in Lent-related activities.

The jail official said the red alert status would be in effect starting Wednesday (April 17) until Saturday (April 20). – Marje Pelayo

SC suspends transfer of convicted inmates to BuCor due to COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the courts in the country to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment order for the transfer of convicted inmates from detention facilities to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a circular posted on the Supreme Court’s Twitter page, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said that all convicted persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) from July 29 to August 31, 2020.

This is in line with the request of BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag to the Office of the Court Administrator to temporarily suspend the issuance of commitment orders to BuCor to prevent the further contamination of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

Over 15,000 PDLs released from jail amid COVID-19 pandemic – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – More than 15,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities as part of the government’s decongestion program in light of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the DILG said that from March 17 to June 22, a total of 15,322 PDLs were released from jail facilities supervised by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

Of this number, 5,910 were from the National Capital Region; 1,557 from CALABARZON; 1,487 from Central Visayas; 1,041 from Central Luzon; 897 from Zamboanga Peninsula; 762 from Northern Mindanao; and the rest are from other regions.

Around 1,312 of these PDLs were released because of the new Supreme Court guidelines issued to decongest the jails.

Majority of these released inmates are elderly and those who committed light or bailable offenses, the DILG said.

“All of these PDLs were released by authority of the courts with some released in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Supreme Court because of the pandemic,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said.

“Ang paglaya ng libo-libong PDLs ay patunay na hindi sila nakakaligtaan at hindi pinapabayaan. Patunay rin itong gumagana ang justice system sa bansa kahit pa man may pandemya,” he added.

Año issued the statement in response to the claim of leftist groups that the government is not doing enough to decongest the jails.

The DILG chief also said that the BJMP established COVID-19 isolation centers with medical staff in the regions despite budgetary and personnel limitations. These isolation facilities were put up with the support from the Department of Health, local government units.

Six Ligtas COVID Centers with 918-bed capacity are established in strategic areas, particularly in Quezon City, San Fernando City, Cebu City, Mandaue City, Pagbilao in Quezon province, and Zamboanga City, Año said.

He added that the bureau also intensified its triaging process, provision of more focused medical care to patients, conduct of daily disinfection of jails, targeted and expanded testing, and massive health education campaigns inside jails.

“These are on top of the usual precautionary measures such as wearing of face mask, thermal scanning, use of foot baths, hand washing, and maintaining good hygiene,” he said.

“Kahit pa maraming responsibilidad ang ipinagkakatiwala sa DILG ngayong COVID-19 crisis ay hindi isinasantabi ng Kagawaran at ng BJMP ang PDLs. Tinitiyak namin ang kapakanan at kaligtasan nila,” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic also affected the country’s jails, with a total of 783 confirmed infections among PDLs and 135 among BJMP personnel.

As of Thursday, July 2, 549 PDLs and 90 bureau personnel have recovered from the viral respiratory disease, Año said.

“Tinututukan po namin ang sitwasyon sa mga BJMP jail sa buong bansa at hindi namin pinapabayaan ang mga COVID-19 positive cases. Sa katunayan, marami na ang gumaling at hindi kami bibitaw hanggang bawat isa sa kanila ay maka-recover na,” he said.

The BJMP also expanded the electronic dalaw (e-Dalaw) program in relation to the temporary suspension of visitation in all jail facilities amid the public health crisis.


9 inmates at QC Jail, 9 BJMP personnel test positive for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 17, 2020

Inmates at the Manila City Jail | Courtesy: Photoville International

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Friday confirmed that nine of its personnel and nine detainees at the Quezon City Jail have tested positive for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In a statement, the BJMP said the virus-infected inmates have been brought to a quarantine facility after manifesting coronavirus symptoms.

They were among the 41 inmates said to have been exposed to an inmate in Quezon City Jail who recently died of suspected COVID-19.

A contact tracing is now being conducted for those who may have been exposed to the virus-infected prisoners, the BJMP said.

Detainees at Quezon City Jail who are experiencing cough, colds, fever, and have pre-existing medical conditions were also isolated.

BJMP spokesperson Jail Inspector Xavier Solda also confirmed that nine of their personnel have contracted the contagious respiratory disease.

He, however, said the employees are not exhibiting severe coronavirus symptoms and are currently undergoing home quarantine.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the BJMP to respond to a petition seeking temporary freedom on humanitarian grounds amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The plea was filed in early April by a group of 22 prisoners who are old and have underlying medical conditions and currently detained in various jail facilities in Metro Manila.

The high court directed the BJMP to comment on the petition within five days. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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