MANILA, Philippines – The New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the rest of the 6 penal colonies in the country are free of the novel coronavirus, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said.
“So far we have no PUIs. BuCor remains Covid19 free and we hope and pray to stay that way.” said BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaglag on Thursday, March 19.
PUIs are individuals who have two or all of the following:
- History of travel in the past 14 days to countries with local transmission and risk of importation of the virus
- History of exposure with a confirmed case
- Has symptoms of respiratory illness (cough and/or colds) and/or fever
PUIs are only tested by the Department of Health (DOH) if they experience severe manifestations of symptoms.
The other category is Person Under Monitoring (PUM) – or a person who have a travel history and history of exposure to a coronavirus patient.
On theory, inmates are less likely to be PUMs because of their restricted mobility, unless they are exposed to jail officers who might be carriers.
Visitations have been suspended.
BuCor Chief Gerald Bantag led the disinfection of Bilibid on Thursday, and said they have procured N95 masks, gloves, disposable ponchos, and alcohol.
“Sa kabila ng kakulangan ng supply sa merkado. Hindi po tayo tumitigil sa paghahanap ng resources para mapunuan at makumpleto ang kailangang proteksyon ng mga (Persons Deprived of Liberty) PDL,” said Bantag.
(Despite the shortage of supply, we are not going to stop looking for resources to make sure PDLs get complete protection.)
The New Bilibid Prison can hold only 6,435 inmates. As of October 2019, it kept 30,426, translating to a 337% congestion rate.
At least 4 returnees have died in harrowing conditions inside the Minimum Security Compound because of overcapacity since the Duterte government hauled back to jail heinous crime convicts because of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) scandal.
As for the detention facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) – meaning the jails of those not yet convicted, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año rejected calls to release low-level offenders saying they are “safer inside.”
BJMP has a congestion rate of 350%. – Rappler.com