EU earmarks P10 M for PH’s fight against virus

Published June 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa

To help address the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) situation in various detention centers in the Philippines, the European Union (EU) has allocated P10 million through its four-year-old Governance in Justice (GOJUST) program.

European Union in the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN
European Union in the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN

EU Delegation to the Philippines Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Wiersing said part of the package is the P3 million worth of 120 multi-media tablets and different kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) that were turned over to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

The latest GOJUST allocation also complements other assistance provided by the EU such as the P50 million in relief distributions to vulnerable communities, a top-up of P17 million for the EU funded program on Enhanced Biosecurity in South East Asia to better address pandemics, or the P1.1 billion provided to strengthen the WHO’s COVID-19 response in 8 ASEAN countries.

“The provision of tablets and personal protective equipment reaffirms the European Union’s commitment to enable the justice sector to address the needs of the court and penitentiary systems during this pandemic,” Wiersing said during the turnover.

The PPEs and disinfectants intended to protect persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and jail personnel from COVID-19 exposure shall be distributed to various detention centers identified as having a high population and congestion rate such as Quezon City, Davao City, Cebu City, Angeles City, Bacolod City, and Naga City.

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, all outsiders are currently prohibited from entering detention facilities in efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

Last April, the BJMP launched the e-Dalaw program to enable PDL to communicate with their families and lawyers through online video calls amid quarantine measures in the country.

The EU said the 120 multimedia tablets will support e-Dalaw and pilot-test the hearing of criminal cases involving PDL through video conferencing in selected areas.

“Our men and women in jails will continue working round the clock, strictly implementing health protocols and guidelines to make sure that our personnel and PDL remain protected and safe from the virus,” BJMP Director Allan Iral said, as he thanked the EU for supporting their efforts to contain and eradicate COVID-19 in compromised facilities such as jails and detention centers.

To date, more than 700 COVID-19 cases were reported among persons deprived of liberty in five regions with 167 recoveries.

Started in 2016, GOJUST is funded by the EU with a value of over P900M.