Advocacy group seeks accountability on sickly, elderly prisoner’s death

Published June 14, 2021, 5:04 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog


An advocacy group for prisoners on Monday, June 14, urged the government to look into the accountability of agencies which should look after the health and safety of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).

In a statement, Kapatid said that Jesus Alegre, a sickly and elderly PDL whom it pleaded for release on humanitarian grounds from the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, died last Sunday, June 13.

“A full investigation into Alegre’s death is needed to ascertain the responsibility and accountability of government agencies in looking after the health and safety of persons deprived of liberty,” Kapatid said in a statement issued by its Spokesperson Fides Lim.

Kapatid said that Alegre had been detained for 16 years “for a trumped-up murder charge to drive him away from the small plot of land he tilled.”

It said that “Alegre’s wife Moreta, now 74, and son Selman, 47, were also convicted and are held, respectively, at the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong and at the NBP Maximum Security Compound.”

Last June 12, it said that Alegre was brought to the NBP Hospital where he had been repeatedly taken and confined. “Reports said that he had difficulty breathing, his legs were swollen, and he could no longer sit or stand up without support,” it added.

It noted that the medical abstract of NBP medical officer Raquel Manalastas dated May 19 showed that Alegre had chronic pulmonary disease and diabetes mellitus.

It pointed out that Alegre was only taken to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa due to its own efforts. It said it shouldered all his medical expenses.

“Alegre is the fifth political prisoner to die in 32 days after the deaths of political prisoners Joseph Canlas and Maximo Redota just last May,” Lim lamented.

“Alegre’s death shows up the terrible state of the highly congested prisons in the country, making the call to release prisoners whose lives are at risk from COVID-19 most exigent,” she said.

Kapatid pleaded for the release Alegre’s wife Moreta and Selman.

“We submitted the names of Jesus and Moreta Alegre to the Department of Justice at least four times from December 2019 to December 2020 so they could make it to the Christmas list of elderly prisoners to be considered for executive clemency. But we have not heard anything from the DOJ,” she lamented.