NEARLY 22,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have been released from facilities managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in a bid to decongest the jails amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic in the country.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año said on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, that 15,102 were paralegal releases through bail, plea-bargaining, parole, or probation while 6,756 were released through acquittal or served sentence.
A total of 21,858 PDLs were released, including 409 elderly, 621 ailing and 24 pregnant prisoners.
“Nagpapasalamat din kami sa Supreme Court sa kanilang mga bagong guidelines na nakatulong sa maraming PDLs,” Año said.
To ensure the welfare of the PDLs, he said the BJMP is conducting targeted testing in 51 jail facilities and three BJMP offices with cases of Covid-19.
Among the affected jails are those in Central Visayas which have the highest number of Covid-19 positive cases at 731, Calabarzon with 146 cases and National Capital Region with 139 cases.
Other BJMP facilities with reported cases are Zamboanga Peninsula or Region 9 with 84; Central Luzon with 13; MIMAROPA and Western Visayas with four cases each; Cordillera Administrative Region and Davao with one case each.
Based on the record of the BJMP there were 180 active Covid-19 in their facilities as of July 15. Of these active cases, 126 are PDLs and 54 are BJMP personnel.
A total of 895 PDLs and jail personnel have recovered from the disease while 11 had died.
“The BJMP is sustaining its stringent measures to keep its other facilities COVID-free. These include contract tracing, immediate isolation of suspected cases, proper medical attention, electronic dalaw or ‘e-dalaw,’ set up of handwashing areas, and regular disinfection in jail premises, among others,” said Año.
BJMP spokesperson Chief Inspector Solda said PDLs experiencing symptoms of the disease are immediately brought to isolation facilities where they undergo testing.
He said they also conduct contact tracing and regular disinfection inside the jails to stop the further spread of the virus. (SunStar Philippines)