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.
MANILA, Philippines — Close to 400 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) have undergone the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing.
The Department of Health (DOH) also reported that of the 373 PDLs who went through the test, 195 have yielded positive results.
Thirty-eight employees of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) have also been infected with the deadly disease.
“Nakikipag-ugnayan ang DOH sa BJMP pati rin sa Philippine Red Cross (PRC) upang masiguro ang maagang ma-test, ma-isolate at magamot ang ang persons deprived of liberty, maging ang mga empleyado natin ng BJMP upang maiwasan ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa loob ng mga kulungan,” said DOH spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire.
The DOH also said that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have visited the Correctional Institute for Women where a significant number of detainees have tested positive of COVID-19.
Several testing activities are also being conducted among the PDLs and BJMP employees in different detention facilities in the country as part of the preventive measures against the infectious disease.
The DOH is determined to reach its target of 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day until the end of May.
Vergeire said the agency’s four soon-to-be-opened swabbing centers will be a big help in intensifying the country’s testing capability.
These swabbing centers are located in Bulacan, Pasay City, Taguig City and along Roxas Blvd. in Manila.
“Ang lahat ng ito ay magbubukas anomang araw ngayong linggo ayon kay BCDA (Bases Conversion and Development Authority) President Vince Dizon. Upang maabot ang ating mga resulta ng target na 30,000 tests kada araw sa darating na Mayo 31, ang DOH ay may itinalagang karagdagang lab encoders upang mapabilis ang labas ng mga resulta ng COVID-19 tests na isinagawa,” Vergeire added.
The health department will also deploy additional manpower in the designated swabbing centers to help fast track the processing of results. — (from the report of Aiko Miguel) /mbmf
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has submitted his fourth report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee in line with his administration’s execution of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act in response to the prevailing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The report includes concern on the welfare and conditions of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are old and sickly as they are considered vulnerable to the deadly new coronavirus.
The President noted that the Board of Pardon and Parole is already crafting the guidelines for the immediate release and processing of cases of PDLs who may be entitled to parole or executive clemency.
“The Board of Pardon and Parole is formulating interim guidelines for the expeditious release of PDLs who are already of old age, sickly or are suffering from terminal illnesses, or with serious disabilities, as well as those eligible for parole or executive clemency, in order to decongest penal facilities,” the report said.
The government also assures that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is constantly monitoring situations inside jail facilities nationwide as it ensures strict enforcement ot of preventive measures against COVID-19, including proper hygiene and disinfection protocols, and quarantine and isolation schemes. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)
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