BuCor urged to allow delivery of food, medicine to inmates in jail facilities

A support and advocacy group has urged the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to allow delivery of food and medicine to persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces.

In a letter to BuCor Director General Gerald Q. Bantag, the Kapatid support group underscored the need to deliver food and medicine to inmates, particularly the elderly and the medically vulnerable.

Kapatid said the PDLS “need augmented nutritional, medical and hygiene provisions to give them a better chance of surviving the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic in congested and unsanitary jails.”

Fides Lim, Kapatid spokesperson, sent a letter to Bantag when informed that the Medium Security Compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City has suspended the delivery of food to PDLs.

“We, the families of political prisoners, abide by the BuCor and BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) regulations on food delivery since the prison lockdown started in March 2020 and we see no reason why delivery should be suspended at any time, including under the ECQ,” Lim said.

 She pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) itself said there is “no scientific evidence” the COVID-19 can be transmitted from food or food packaging.

 Aside from the BuCor, Lim also sought clarification from BJMP Director Alan S. Iral if the BJMP has also imposed similar restrictions on food delivery.

 “We don’t know how long the ECQ will last in the NCR Plus but appropriate procedures to protect the health of PDLs must include delivery of food (raw and cooked, including staples like rice, vegetables and fruits), medicines and vitamins, essential toiletries (soap, toothpaste, etc.) and health care supplies (face masks, disinfectants),” she said.

ECQ has been declared in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal until April 4.