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

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2020   •   523

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.


LGU ordinance, kailangan sa pagpasok ng mga menor de edad sa mall – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Hinimok ni Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año ang mga lokal na pamahalaan na maglabas ng ordinansa para payagan ang mga menor de edad sa loob ng mga mall sa general community quarantine (GCQ) areas.

Ginawa ni Año ang pahayag kasunod ng rekomendasyon na payagan nang lumabas ang mga menor de edad sa gitna ng novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Una nang sinabi ng DILG chief na maaaring pumasok sa loob ng mga mall sa GCQ areas ang mga menor de edad na 15 anyos pababa basta’t kasama ang kanilang mga magulang.

Ngunit kailangan aniya itong pagtibayan ng ordinansa, lalo na ng bawat lungsod sa Metro Manila.

“Ito po ay pagtitibayin sa mga ordinansa ng ating mga NCR (National Capital Regions) mayors sa lugar po ng GCQ (General Community Quarantine)” ang wika ni Año.

Paglilinaw naman ni Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, limitado lamang ang aktibidad na maaaring gawin ng mga menor de edad sa loob ng mall gaya ng pagbili ng pagkain at iba pang mahahalagang bagay.

Ayon kay Lopez, ito ay bahagi ng mga hakbang ng pamahalaan upang muling pasiglahin ang ekonomiya na nalugmok sa gitna ng pandemya.

Samantala, sinabi naman ng Philippine National Police (PNP) na hihintayin nila ang ilalabas na ordinansa ng mga lokal na pamahalaan bago nila payagan ang mga menor de edad na makapasok sa loob ng mga mall.

“Kailangan pagtibayin yan ng isang ordinansa. Sa meeting namin ng JTF COVID Shield, pinaghandaan po namin itong recommendation ng mayors sa Metro Manila at kaugnayan din natin si NCRPO director para nga sa pagpapatupad nitong nirecommend nila na tinanggap naman ng IATF at inannounce na nga kagabi,” ang wika ni Lieutenant General Cesar Hawthorne Binag, ang commander ng Joint Task Force COVID Shield.

Hinimok rin ng pulisya ang mga magulang na kung maaari ay huwag nang dalhin sa mall ang mga bata hangga’t nananatili ang banta ng COVID-19.

“Nakikiusap kami na hangga’t kaya dahil wala pa po tayong vaccination e umiwas na lang po muna sana. This is to protect and prevent the disease from spreading further. Siguro kung medyo naturukan na tayo ng vaccine ay that’s the time na pwede na lumabas,” ang pahayag ni National Capital Region Police Office director Brigadier General Vicente Danao Jr.

Sinabi rin ni PNP chief General Debold Sinas na pauuwiin nila ang mga batang magtutungo sa mall habang wala pang inilalabas na ordinansa.

“Hindi namin hulihin at alamin muna ng pulis ang dahilan kung bakit nasa mall na sila at pauwiin natin sila,” ang wika ni Sinas. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Lea Ylagan)

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Experts say stricter quarantine classification possible in January 2021

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Experts at the University of the Philippines (UP) OCTA Research said that a stricter quarantine classification in January 2021 is likely if COVID-19 cases reach the 500,000 mark.

Dr. Guido David of the UP OCTA Research said there is a possible surge in COVID-19 cases during the holiday season due to family reunions and other mass gatherings.

“Kung bigla tayong magka-surge baka magka-MGCQ tayo by January kung nagka-holiday surge tayo. In fact huwag naman sanang mangyari pero it’s even remotely possible na mabalik tayo sa mas strict na quarantine kaya nga ayaw natin mangyari iyan (If there is a surge we might be placed under MGCQ by January. If fact, hopefully it won’t happen, but it’s even remotely possible we might go back to strict quarantine which we don’t want to happen),” he said.

The team stressed the importance of maintaining physical distancing and observing minimum health standards to avoid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

They also warned that the surge could take a toll on health workers and hospitals.

David said they are open to easing the quarantine classification to Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) if COVID-19 cases drop. However, there is still a possibility that cases would increase to 10,000-20,000.

Kung magpatuloy ang pagbaba ng bilang ng kaso, pwede naming echo iyong sinabi ni DOH Usec. [Rosario] Vergeire na mag- MGCQ na tayo by the first quarter of next year pero ang condition niyan is ang patuloy na pagbaba ng bilang ng kaso (If cases continue to drop we can echo DOH Usec. Rosario Vergeire in easing to MGCQ by the first quarter of next year, but under the condition that cases continue to drop),” he said.

Experts also urged private sectors and local government units (LGUs) to continue implementing minimum health standards and avoid physical gatherings this holiday season. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Medical teams sent to Davao City to help manage rising COVID-19 cases – Galvez

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government has deployed medical teams to Davao City to help address the surge of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the city, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said.

During a cabinet meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Galvez said six doctors and 13 nursing staff were deployed to the city to assist the already “overwhelmed” personnel of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) amid the uptick in COVID-19 infections.

The teams will also help improve Davao City’s COVID-19 referral and emergency operations systems.

Galvez noted that Davao City has seen a 68-percent increase in infection rate in recent days.

He also said that the task force had previously sent medical equipment and medicines to SPMC to manage severe coronavirus cases.

Members of the task force also visited Davao City last week to assess the situation.

“Sa ngayon po, medyo nag-i-stabilize ang Davao. At nagpadala na rin po tayo ng mga tinatawag po natin na high-flow nasal cannula at nagpadala rin po tayo ng mga Avigan — na mga compassionate drug para po makatulong po sa mga severe cases po natin,” Galvez said in his report to the president.

He said the teams sent to Davao were also the ones that assisted Cebu City in curbing the surge in coronavirus cases.

Inter-Agency Task Force Chief Implementer for Visayas, retired Major General Melquiades Feliciano and his team, as well as Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega are also in Davao City, according to Galvez.

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