Reveal actual number of COVID-19 cases among PDL, rights group urges

Published April 14, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Jeffrey Damicog

Human rights group Kapatid has asked the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to be transparent in disclosing the actual numbers of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who have been infected with COVID-19.

Persons Deprived of Liberty wears face mask as precautionary method against COVID-19 inside the Manila City Jail on March 10, 2020. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)
Persons Deprived of Liberty wears face mask as precautionary method against COVID-19 inside the Manila City Jail on March 10, 2020. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

“No jails are ‘100% safe’ from COVID-19,” human rights group Kapatid said in a statement.

“The sooner that the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and prison agencies come clean with their own hard data, the better to protect all prisoners and the quicker the coordinated action,” Kapatid pointed out.

Kapatid also urged BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag, the BJMP and the DOJ to “immediately prepare lists of the vulnerable PDL such as the elderly and the sick (who are) eligible for release,” it pointed out.

The human rights group pointed out that Malacanang revealed in its latest weekly report to Congress that “74 prisoners and 80 personnel in BuCor facilities are persons under monitoring (PUM) while 2 prisoners and 1 personnel are persons under investigation (PUI).”

The group also noted back in April 4 the BJMP also reported that seven of its personnel were confirmed to have COVID-19, while, 386 of its personnel and 38 PDL who were considered PUM have been cleared.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier disclosed that “before the COVID-19 broke out, the DOJ had instructed the Bureau of Corrections and the Board of Pardons and Parole to expedite the release of, or grant of executive clemency to, old and sickly PDLs serving their sentence, for humanitarian reasons,.”

The group also wrote to BJMP Director Allan Iral and BJMP legal head Michael Carceres to “immediately draw up lists to identify the at-risk prisoners to prioritize for temporary release”.

Kapatid said that a petition has been filed before the Supreme Court (SC) seeking the temporary release of “vulnerable” PDL and that the House of Representatives has backed calls for the release of such PDL.

 
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