De Lima urges Senate to probe death of 29 Bilibid inmates

Published November 13, 2019, 7:59 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Hannah Torregoza

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has urged the Senate to investigate the deaths of 29 inmates inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) due to alleged subhuman conditions inside the national penitentiary.

FACING ARREST – Senator Leila de Lima is in fighting form in this photo taken at a press conference in the Senate last Tuesday. A regional trial court on Thursday ordered her arrest. (Jansen Romero | Manila Bulletin)

De Lima, in filing Senate Resolution No. 208, said the Senate should thoroughly probe the deaths of these persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) within a 17-day period last October allegedly due to lack of basic necessities and proper medical treatment.

“These intolerable deaths are a ‘grisly record’ that cannot be set aside, but rather, deserves to be looked into and addressed with the help of an independent and compassionate eye of the Senate,” De Lima said.

“Even though the PDLs are incarcerated due to their conflict with the law, there is no valid justification for treating them less than humans and subjecting them to subhuman conditions,” she added.

De Lima’s call came in the heels of the NBP Hospital’s report that the death rate among Bilibid prisoners is already in a “critical” condition.

NBP hospital chief Henry Fabro was quoted, saying one prisoner dies each day due to the insufficiency of doctors and available medical facilities.

She said that if the Duterte administration was able to increase borrowings and taxation over the past couple of years, then it is capable of providing the funds necessary to deliver basic decent living conditions for PDLs.

“The basic and decent living condition for the PDLs is non-negotiable and not subject to any diminution by operation of our laws and our legal and administrative processes,” the senator said.

Citing Article 235 of the Revised Penal Code for maltreatment of prisoners, the lawmaker said that the deprivation of humane living conditions during incarceration constitutes cruelty in the administration of justice and is punishable by law.

“More than our legal obligations under our laws and international commitments, it is our moral obligation as human beings to treat our PDLs humanely and compassionately; the same way we want our loved ones to be treated if they suffer the unfortunate fate of incarceration, heaven forbid,” she said.