6 convicts die of coronavirus in Bucor facilities; 161 cases overall

At least 6 convicts in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) have died of COVID-19, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday, May 27.

In total, 161 convicts have tested positive for the coronavirus. The DOJ said 8 of them have already recovered, while there are 99 suspected cases and 36 probable cases.

Of BuCor's 7 penal colonies, the confirmed cases came only from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, with 82; and the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong, with 79.

But there are 15 suspected cases at the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Southern Zamboanga.

The BuCor has built an isolation facility inside the Bilibid complex called Site Harry. As of May 25, there are 71 confirmed cases and 12 suspected cases in isolation in Site Harry.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said a 2nd batch of 1,500 rapid test kits will be delivered to Bilibid this week. "More are expected in the coming weeks," said Perete.

Rappler reported in a two–part exclusive that at least 60 have died per month in the New Bilibid Prison since the lockdown, with dozens of them dying of unknown causes and who were never tested for coronavirus. 

Inmates and families whom Rappler talked to complained of the lack of information coming from BuCor about the situation inside Bilibid.

"The Department of Justice will provide within the week laptops to the BuCor for use of PDLs under the E-Dalaw program. This program will use electronic or virtual venues for PDLs and their families to communicate during this time of the pandemic," said Perete.

The DOJ has relaxed the application process for parole and clemency. The DOJ is still not able to give exact numbers if there have been convicts released on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) since it revised its internal rules when the Antonio Sanchez scandal hit last year. 

As of May 15, 144 convicts have been granted parole, and 653 with pending applications. 

There are 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus among BuCor personnel; all but one are recovering from their own homes, one is staying in Site Harry.

For  Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) facilities, meaning prisoners still on trial, there are 517 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Cebu is still the worst-hit when it comes to cases among prisoners. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.