By Jeffrey Damicog
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) personnel are the ones to be blamed if persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) get infected with the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a human rights group said on Thursday.
Human rights group Kapatid pointed this out after BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag revealed on Wednesday that he has prohibited the delivery of goods and other items, including medicines, to PDLs after 30 PDLs at the Correctional Instituted for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City were suspected to be infected with COVID-19.
“It is wrong for BuCor Director Bantag to ban even maintenance medicines from being sent to women prisoners in the same way that it is wrong and illogical to presume that the cause of the spread of infection inside prison facilities are the trickles of food and medicines coming from prisoners’ families,” Kapatid said.
“The BuCor need not look far for the real source of the contagion. They are the prison personnel who continue to mingle with the outside community,” the human rights group added.
Kapatid said this is what has been happening “in many prison facilities across the world where COVID-19 is infecting, and now killing prisoners in growing numbers.”
“Once the BuCor stops the influx of necessary maintenance medicines when it cannot even provide for ordinary medicines and basic health care, more prisoners will fall sick and die,” it stated.
Bantag revealed he has issued an order prohibiting the delivery of goods and other items, including medicines to all BuCor prison facilities.
This is on top of his previous order which suspended the visitation privileges of families of PDLs at BuCor’s facilities.
Bantag disclosed that 30 PDLs at the CIW are suspected to have the COVID-19 despite having no contact with anyone with COVID-19.
He also said a personnel of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) has been on self-quarantine after having been exposed to a person with COVID-19.