BJMP calls for prioritization of prisoners in COVID-19 vaccination

Published August 30, 2021, 2:08 PM

by Chito Chavez

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) appealed to local government units (LGUs) Monday, August 30, to include persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) in their respective coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination priority list.

Major Xavier Solda, spokesperson of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (Photo via Solda’s Twitter account)

In a press briefing, BJMP spokesperson Major Xavier Solda said the brueau has a total population of 119,692 PDLs and only 10,939 COVID-19 jabs were administered to them so far.

A total of 4,259 PDLs have been fully vaccinated while second dose and 6,680 were administered with the first dose.

The fully vaccinated PDLs represent only 9.14 percent of the total population of BJMP inmates and Solda hopes they can reach 100 percent the soonest time possible.

He cited the Bocaue Municipal Jail in Bulacan and the Bataan District Jail (male and female dormitories) for vaccinating 100 percent of their PDLs.

“One hundred percent na sila (They are 100 percent [vaccinated]) and that is through the efforts of their local government units,’’ Solda said.

He bared that the BJMP has coordinated with the LGUs through the National Vaccine Operation Center to ensure that all PDLs in its facilities can be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Kung ang ating mga LGUs ay hindi makakalimutan ang kanilang mga constituents na nasa loob ng mga district, city at municipal jails natin, malaking bagay iyon para kay BJMP (If our LGUs will not forget their constituents incarcerated in the district, city, and municipal jails, this is very much favorable for the BJMP),” he said.

However, he lamented that the vaccination of PDLs is heavily dependent on the supply coming from the Department of Health and through the support of LGUs.

“Ito ang panawagan natin sa ating mga pamahalaang lokal na sana huwag nilang makalimutan ang kanilang mga constituents sa loob ng mga facilities ng BJMP (We appeal to the local governments to not forget their constituents inside the BJMP facilities),” Solda stressed.

The BJMP official admitted that the congestion woes in its jail facilities add to the threat of COVID-19 infection among the inmates.

He bared the nationwide congestion rate reached its peak in 2017 at 606 percent. It went down to 403 percent in December last year, and currently sits at 397 percent.

At the current congestion rate, Solda said the space alloted for each PDL is actually being shared by five persons.

He said the bureau has been implementing infrastructure projects to address the congestion problems even as he raised concerns about its delays due to the prevailing pandemic.