By Jonathan Hicap
Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi has sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to oppose the transfer of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive inmates from Mandaluyong to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), which was done last month.
“Let it be stated that we are mindful of our obligation to extend humane considerations to those afflicted with the pandemic virus. However, we have also to consider the thousands of Muntinlupeños who are put at greater risk with the additional COVID-19 patients brought to the city,” Fresnedi said in his letter to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
Fresnedi earlier wrote the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to protest the transfer of 47 COVID-19 positive prisoners from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) to a quarantine area in the NBP medium security camp.
He told DOJ that the transfer was done without notice to the city government. He cited Sec. 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991, which states that “within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology…”
Besides the 47 COVID-19 positive CIW inmates, three employees of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) tested positive for the virus, and three inmates have died of the disease, bringing to 53 the total number of infected persons under the bureau’s custody.
BuCor has said that the quarantine area, known as “Site Harry,” is bounded by a 12-meter wall and is safe and secure. The 47 prisoners were transferred to NBP in three batches in April.
The Muntinlupa City council backed Fresnedi by passing a resolution to protest and oppose the transfer of CIW prisoners to the city. The resolution stated that any transfer should have prior approval by the city council.
As of May 3, the Muntinlupa City Health Office said there are 154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city including 22 deaths and 46 recovered cases. There are also eight suspect and 443 probable cases in Muntinlupa.