By Jonathan Hicap
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) unveiled a renovated building in the quarantine area of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases among inmates and employees rose to 53.
BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag and Boris Michel, head of delegation in the Philippines of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) led in visiting “Site Harry,” the name of the quarantine area in the NBP medium security camp, on April 30.
Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco, Department of Health-National Capital Region representative Dr. Dindo Belarmino and representative from the Muntinlupa City Health Office (CHO) also attended the event.
ICRC donated medical items and renovated a building that was previously used as a work area for prisoners who made handicraft. It is now an isolation area with a new toilet system, water supply, ventilation and new folding beds that can accommodate 100 male inmates with mild symptoms of COVID-19.
Items that were donated by ICRC are 110 beds, 23 trash bins, 120 pillows, 300 personal protective equipment (PPE), five boxes of N95 masks, 2 boxes of surgical masks, 110 monoblock stools, 150 monoblock chairs and 14 tables.
“Thank you to the ICRC for their untiring support not only for the PDLs [persons deprived of liberty] but also to the entire humanity ever since its foundation. Thanks also to the City Health Office (CHO) for gracing this ceremony. It only shows their support not only to their constituents but also to other PDL from different parts of the country. Thank you to DOH,” said Bantag.
BuCor employees were trained by the Muntinlupa CHO on nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab collection and donning of PPEs. Some BuCor employees are now serving 14 days straight without going home as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
BuCor spokesperson Gabriele Chaclag told Manila Bulletin that there are now 53 confirmed COVID-19 cases under BuCor.
A total of 47 positive prisoners from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong are currently at the NBP quarantine facility. Two CIW inmates and one NBP prisoner died of COVID-19 in different hospitals. Three BuCor personnel tested positive for COVID-19 and are recovering at their homes.
The transfer of the CIW COVID-19 patients to NBP is being opposed by Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi, the city council and Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, saying this was done without prior notice to the city government.
A resolution was passed by the city council saying the transfer of prisoners was carried out “without prior consultation with the City Government of Muntinlupa and without the prior approval of the Sangguniang Panlungsod.”
BuCor previously said that the quarantine facility is safe and secured, and will not endanger other prisoners, employees and residents living near the area.