Respiratory problems threaten PDLs inside Bilibid

Marje Pelayo   •   December 10, 2019   •   401

MANILA, Philippines – The maximum compound of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) has been a home to around 500 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who are now suffering from symptoms of tuberculosis.

Thus, the International Committee of the Red Cross held a medical mission to check on their conditions.

According to NBP Chief Doctor Henry Fabro, most PDLs are showing signs of tuberculosis and pneumonia which need immediate attention.

“Marami ang may sakit sa baga, TB at pneumonia (Many are contracting respiratory problems like TB and pneumonia),” Fabro said.

“Sinusundan iyan ng sakit sa puso, high blood pressure, sakit sa bato na dina-dialysis natin (Some have heart ailments, high blood pressure, kidney problems who are undergoing dialysis procedure),” he added.

There are around 28,000 PDL inside the NBP and 18,000 of them are inside the maximum compound.

Jail administrators said it is inevitable for them to contract such diseases because of their number inside the facility.

“With that population and with the limited space siempre nagkakahawahan iyan (it’s inevitable for them to be infected as well),” explained NBP Chief PIO Col. Gabriel Chaklag.

“May mga infectious diseases and at the same time some of our PDL are senior citizens so just imagine ang susceptibility nila sa other diseases (Many have infectious diseases and, at the same time, some of our PDLs are senior citizens so imagine their susceptibility to other diseases),” he added.

At present, there are over 160 patients confined inside the NBP hospital suffering from respiratory problems.

The inmates expressed gratitude to the management of the NBP and the assistance of non-government organizations in addressing their medical needs.

“Nagagamot naman din nila. Pero sobrang dami talaga dito ang nagkakasakit (They are able to treat them. But a lot had been really sickly),” said one of the inmates.

“Kaya nagpapasalamat po kami na mayroong mga ganyang x-ray (We’re thankful that, at least, we can avail of x-ray services),” he added.

However, the NBP management still lacks physicians to attend to all the medical conditions of the inmates.

At present, the facility only has six doctors in rotation.

The facility also needs additional equipment like x-rays and ECG machines. – MNP (with inputs from Sherwin Culubong)

Nearly 22,000 inmates released from PH jails amid coronavirus pandemic — DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2020

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday said that a total of 21,858 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said these PDLs were released from March 17 to July 13 from 470 BJMP facilities nationwide in a move to decongest overcrowded jails amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Of the total number of inmates released, 15,102 were paralegal releases through bail, plea-bargaining, parole, or probation while 6,756 were non-paralegal releases through acquittal or served sentence.

Of the PDLs released, 409 were elderly, 621 were sick, and 24 were pregnant.

“Patunay lamang ito na sa gitna ng pandemya, hindi nakakaligtaan ng pamahalaan ang kapakanan at kabutihan ng ating mga kapatid na nakapiit sa mga kulungan, lalong-lalo na iyong mga matatanda, mahihina at buntis. Nagpapasalamat din kami sa Supreme Court sa kanilang mga bagong guidelines na nakatulong sa maraming PDLs,” Año said.

“The DILG through the BJMP is also taking concrete measures to decongest our jails such as improving and putting up more jail facilities and fast-tracking the court hearings of PDLs,” he added.

Meanwhile, the DILG Chief said the BJMP is conducting targeted testing in 51 jail facilities and three BJMP offices that have been compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Año said that of the jail units, Region VII had the highest number of positive cases at 731; followed by CALABARZON at 146; and National Capital Region at 139.

Other BJMP facilities with reported cases are Region IX with 84; Region III with 13; MIMAROPA and Region VI with four cases each; Cordillera Administrative Region and Region XI with one case each.

As of July 15, 2020, Año said there are only 180 active COVID-19 cases in the BJMP, 126 of whom are PDLs, and 54 are BJMP personnel.

He said 895 PDLs and jail personnel have recovered, while 11 died from the disease.

He said that the recovery rate for PDLs is 82% and 69% for BJMP personnel, while the death rate is at 1.05% for PDLs and 0.56% for BJMP personnel.

Año said the BJMP is sustaining its stringent measures to keep its other facilities COVID-free. These include contract tracing, immediate isolation of suspected cases, proper medical attention, electronic dalaw or “e-dalaw,” set up of handwashing areas, and regular disinfection in jail premises, among others.

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan warns citizens of pneumonia deadlier than COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

China’s embassy in Kazakhstan has warned its citizens on Thursday (July 9) to take precautions against an outbreak of pneumonia in the country that it says is more lethal than COVID-19.

It said in a statement on its official website late on Thursday that there had been a “significant increase” in cases in the cities of Atyrau, Aktobe and Shymkent since mid-June.

On Friday (July 10), however, Kazakhstan’s healthcare ministry branded Chinese media reports based on the embassy statement as “fake news”.

The ministry said its tallies of bacterial, fungal and viral pneumonia infections, which also included cases of unclear causes, were in line with World Health Organisation guidelines.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declined to comment on the issue directly during a Friday (July 10) briefing in Beijing, instead referring media to “the relevant authorities in Kazakhstan”.

“China also hopes to obtain information on this,” Zhao said.

Kazakhstan, which imposed a second lockdown this week to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, has a tally of almost 55,000 COVID-19 infections, including 264 deaths. The number of new cases rose on Thursday to a daily record of 1,962.

On Tuesday (July 7), state news agency Kazinform said the number of pneumonia cases “increased 2.2 times in June as compared to the same period of 2019”.

In its statement, the Chinese embassy had said pneumonia in Kazakhstan killed 1,772 people in the year’s first half, with 628 deaths in June, including Chinese citizens.

It is unclear whether the said pneumonia it referred to was caused by a virus related to coronavirus or a different strain. (Reuters)

(Production: Shubing Wang, Fang Nanlin)

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.


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