By Jonathan Hicap
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said the transfer of 18 female prisoners infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19) from Mandaluyong to an isolation area in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa will not endanger other prisoners or residents in the area.
Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi protested the transfer of the 18 prisoners from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) to the NBP on April 21 as this was done without prior notice.
BuCor announced on April 21 that 18 prisoners and one BuCor medical staff at the CIW tested positive for COVID-19 after getting in contact with a 72-year-old prisoner who was found to have the virus on April 18.
On the same day, BuCor transferred the 18 prisoners aboard closed vans to a facility in the NBP’s medium security camp. The BuCor earlier identified five buildings in the medium security camp as isolation areas in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 among prisoners.
According to BuCor, the infected prisoners “are asymptomatic or only having mild symptoms” and the transfer was done as the CIW “has limited space for an ideal isolation area.”
It said the NBP site for the COVID-19 positive prisoners “is an ideal isolation and recovery area for PDL patients for its unique set up which is easy to manage without compromising the security of the larger PDL community and safety of everyone.”
“Rest assured that residents of NBP reservation and neighboring communities are safe and far from this facility,” BuCor added.
BuCor described the NBP isolation area as “a walled compound with 12 meters high perimeter wall that is away from residential areas and from the prison cells.”
“They will be better taken care of in this facility without endangering the prison camp or the NBP community. The vans were thoroughly disinfected afterwards and all personnel involved had also undergone disinfection procedures,” the bureau said.
BuCor added that it “had already reached out to the Muntinlupa City government for partnership and has expressed its high regard in our current collaboration being implemented in support of the enhanced community quarantine.”
The city’s confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 126 as of April 21 from 121 on April 20 including 14 recovered cases and 17 deaths.