Total of 22 BuCor convicts have coronavirus, isolated in Bilibid

MANILA, Philippines – The number of convicts in Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facilities who tested positive for the coronavirus increased to 22 with most of them isolated at a facility inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) despite opposition from the Muntinlupa local government.

BuCor reported on Friday, April 24, two new confirmed cases of coronavirus among convicts of the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, bringing to 21 the latest number of inmate patients from that facility. 

The ailing women convicts were brought to the NBP isolation facility in Muntinlupa called Site Harry. The first coronavirus patient in the CIW was a 72-year-old who was confined at the Sta Ana Hospital.

The 22nd case is a Bilibid inmate who is still confined at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) hospital.

According to BuCor, even the inmates who have had contact to the positive cases will be housed in Site Harry.

"Upon confirmation of the COVID-19 positive result, the Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) earlier identified as having been exposed to the patient and who were subsequently isolated were finally transfered to the bigger quarantine area at Site Harry where they will be monitored more effectively while awaiting to be tested for COVID-19 virus," said BuCor.

The transfers to Muntinlupa were opposed by Mayor Jaime Fresnedi.

DOJ response

In a message to reporters on Friday, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said the BuCor had wanted to coordinate the move but the "relevant local official could not be reached."

"In any event, we like to assure the local government of Muntinlupa and the city residents that all precautions and protocols were complied with in the transportation of the individuals from CIW," said Perete.

Perete added: "More importantly, the quarantine facility within the NBP was constructed in accordance with World Health Organization and Department of Health standards, and its management will comply with stringent health protocols."

As of Friday, "other prison and penal farms reported no case of COVID-19 in their area of responsibility."

"They are implementing strict security measures and disease prevention measures while also preparing their teams in case of COVID-19 infection," said BuCor.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has eased the process for applying for parole and executive clemenct, but still excluded from the relaxed rules heinous crime, high risk and drug convicts. – 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.

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