Ligtas Covid Centre for BI detainees in New Bilibid Prison opens

Published September 21, 2020, 2:23 PM

by Jun Ramirez

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has opened the BI Ligtas Covid Centre inside the New Bilibid Prison Compound in Muntinlupa City, Monday afternoon.

BI Warden Facility (BIWF) chief Remiecar Caguiron said the facility will serve as a quarantine ward for foreigner-persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are COVID-19 positive with mild to moderate symptoms.

The project was initiated by the BI, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Corrections.

Caguiron said that in the past,  the bureau used the custodial quarters of the detention facility in Camp Bagong Diwa to isolate COVID-positive PDLs.

She added that newly-committed foreign wards who test positive for COVID-19 were often referred to authorized facilities or the provincial hospital.

“Both personnel and detainees face a big risk of contracting the disease because we have very limited space in our warden facility, and the number of detained aliens remain high.  “This isolation ward lessens the risk,” Caguiron said

Caguiron reports that there are currently 315 aliens detained at the BIWF for various immigration offenses.  The number of detainees ballooned following the BI’s crackdown on big companies that hired illegal aliens earlier this year.

The BI earlier reported that they moved to decongest the detention center as early as April this year with more than a hundred aliens deported since April, while others were released on bail.

“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we stop the spread of this disease through this isolation facility,” said Caguiron.

The BI Ligtas Covid Centre has a capacity of 30 PDLs.

The BI is also planning to install CCTV cameras in the facility, similar to those in hospitals, for remote monitoring and to lessen physical contact.

BIWF personnel as well as medical personnel will be assigned and on duty on a 24/7 basis.

Currently, five aliens have been tested positive for the virus.