Hold BuCor officials liable for death of elderly, sickly inmate at NBP

Published June 16, 2021, 12:13 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog


Officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) should be held liable for the death last Sunday, June 13, of a 75-year-old and sickly inmate at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

Human rights group Karapatan, in a statement, said that “by lacking the ability to care for the sick and elderly, and further prolonging Jesus Alegre’s agony of keeping him in jail despite numerous efforts to call for his release, we can only hold the BuCor accountable for his death.”

Through Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Karapatan said: “Negligence spells murder in the case of Jesus Alegre.”

Palabay said Alegre was a farmer from Sagay, Negros Occidental who was able to secure from concerned government agencies rights over the land he tilled.

However, Palabay said, Alegre was “falsely convicted of murder over the death of a bodyguard of a local landlord who later claimed the farm land.”

“What kind of system allows the elderly to succumb to death, languish behind bars, and be made to pay for crimes that were clearly trumped-up and were only meant to silence them, for speaking out against an injustice they fought against?” asked Palabay.

“We hope we can say that Jesus Alegre died a natural death, that his illnesses were all brought out of old age. However, that is not the case for Jesus Alegre. This government can never deny the fact that Jesus Alegre grew very sick due to the long years of detention. Jesus Alegre was in jail under three presidents, and the Duterte regime had all the chance to correct this injustice, but chose to ignore it altogether,” she pointed out.

At the same time, Palabay called for the release of Alegre’s wife Moreta and their son Selman, “both of whom were also falsely convicted of murder.”

Palabay also said:

“Let the death of Jesus Alegre be a resounding call for the humanitarian release of elderly and sick political prisoners, first and foremost, Moreta Alegre. Let Moreta grieve out of prison, and let justice be served to their family.

“Let Jesus Alegre’s story remind us that the majority of the population are landless, treated like criminals when they choose to fight, and thrown to jail, with death as the only recourse to be free.

“There is no other fitting way to remember Jesus Alegre’s death, but to be reminded of the injustices that this system has engulfed the majority of our people.”