In a bid to protect inmates from mass infection from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has temporarily suspended what it calls “paabot’’ system wherein visitors would hand food and other basic needs of the detainees.
Instead, BJMP spokesperson Chief Inspector Xavier Solda said inmates and their relatives and friends should instead avail of the virtual visit under the bureau’s e-Dalaw project and telephone calls.
In an interview on Wednesday, March 31, Solda stressed the urgency of the measure as the virus has dangerously lurked at alarming levels in the country with the number of cases breaching the 10,000 mark.
He added that the deferment of the “paabot’’ practice also aims to protect the families of the Person Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) from being infected with the virus as they have to leave their homes to visit the BJMP manned jails while the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) is imposed in the National Capital Region-plus (NCR-plus) which covers the areas of Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan.
“Sa mga PDL naman na nangangailangan ng maintenance medicines and special diets for medical reasons, maari itong mapayagan ngunit daraan pa din po ito sa usual health and security protocols ng ating mga pasilidad (PDLs who are on maintenance medicines and with special diets for medical reasons may be accorded twith heir needs but they will still go through the usual health and security protocols of the facility),’’ Solda said.
Detention facilities are considered as a ticking time bomb for COVID-19 since the current congestion rate exposes the risks of mass infection among the inmates. At the New Bilibid Prisons for instance, a number of inmates died of COVID-19 last year.
A barangay tanod (village security officer) who requested anonymity noted the difficulty of not being able to provide the basic needs of his son who is jailed on drug charges with the suspension of the ‘paabot’’.
“Alam naman ng lahat na madaling maubos ang mga gamit niya gaya ng pang kalinisan dahil binigbigyan niya ang mga kapwa preso niya (It is common knowledge that his things like hygiene kits run out easily as my son has to share these things to some of his fellow inmates),’’ the tanod said.
If possible, the tanod appealed to BJMP authorities to allow them to just give the equivalent amount to the jail guards for the purchase of his son’s special requests like his “paboritong pagkain (favorite food)’’.
“Mahilig siya sa lechon kawali (crispy fried pork belly). Sana naman makatikim siya nito kahit dalawang beses isang linggo. Malaki ang binagsak ng timbang niya mula ng makulong (He is fond of lechon kawali. I hope he gets to have them even twice a week. He has lost a lot of weight since being jailed),’’ he added.