Nothing alarming over the number of PDL deaths in BuCor prisons this year – Guevarra

Published July 22, 2020, 7:15 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday, July 22, assured that there is nothing alarming that there were almost 500 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who have died this year in prisons managed by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO /MANILA BULLETIN)

“Masasabi natin na hindi naman siya (We can say that it’s not) substantially higher than the daily average during the past year,” Guevarra said during an online press briefing.

The secretary was informed by the BuCor last Monday, July 20, that there is a daily average of two to three PDL deaths prior to the pandemic.

The BuCor informed Guevarra that there have been 476 PDLs who died from January 1 to July 19, 2020 which includes those who got infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“So if you average that, if you divide that by the total number of days during that period, it would appear something like 2.3 on the average daily,” Guevarra said.

The BuCor also confirmed to Guevarra that among the 21 PDLs who died from COVID-19 since March, nine were high-profile New Bilibid Prison (NBP) PDLs including 2009 kidnap-for-ransom and carjacking convict Jaybee Sebastian who died last July 19.

Guevarra admitted there are many speculations, including doubts that the nine high-profile inmates died from COVID-19, and allegations that they were also set free.

“We thought it proper and prudent to request the National Bureau of Investigation to step into the picture and make its own inquiry into the matter,” he said.

During Monday’s meeting, Guevarra said he was also informed by BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag about the agency’s protocols in handling the deaths of PDLs.

“We noted na medyo inadequate (We noted that it is inadequate),” the secretary admitted.

“So this will be the subject matter of further discussion, how to improve their protocols pag merong namamatay sa mga prisons (whenever someone dies in prison),” he added.

 
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