Relatives of political prisoners urge BuCor to reconsider allowing ‘essential’ food deliveries

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 01 2021 09:47 PM

MANILA — A support group for political prisoners on Thursday called on the Bureau of Corrections to allow the delivery of food and other essential goods for prisoners.

The group Kapatid, which is composed of families and friends of political prisoners, said that the practice of “paabot” or the delivery of food and medicine is “critical for sustenance and survival during this health crisis especially in the country’s congested and unsanitary prison facilities.”

“We hold that delivery of food, medicines, medical and hygiene supplies, and cash amounts within prescribed limits for prisoners deprived of liberty (PDLs), including political prisoners, must be considered essential since these provisions are critical for sustenance and survival during this health crisis especially in the country’s congested and unsanitary prison facilities. At no time do PDLs need food and medical support most than at present,” said Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim in a letter sent to BuCor on Thursday.

Lim also cited Malacañang’s announcement that food products are considered “essential goods and their delivery should remain unhampered 24/7.”

Lim was responding to a March 31 letter of BuCor’s Director for Security and Operations CCSupt. Victor Erick Pascua reiterating the institution’s temporary suspension of deliveries within the facility due to the Inter-Agency Task Force Guidelines for the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

But Lim said they are not asking for 24/7 delivery of items, only “ reasonable, compassionate continuance of delivering provisions essential to human health.”

“Guidelines for the delivery of food and other vital provisions should not be simplistically subsumed or misinterpreted as falling under restrictive quarantine procedures of the IATF because the health and life of people depend on this,” Lim said.

She pointed out that one political prisoner, a 75-year-old farmer named Jesus Alegre, is in need of medicine since what he has now will only last for a month.

“His condition requires unhindered delivery of his medicines together with his small monthly cash allowance and nutritious food for his recovery,” Lim said of Alegre, who has been staying at the New Bilibid Prison’s Maximum Security Compound for 16 years allegedly due to a trumped up murder charge brought about by a land dispute. 

Lim said that if the stricter quarantine restrictions remain even after the Holy Week, “appropriate protocols should be put in place to allow in food and health or medical items badly needed by PDLs as the impact of the pandemic intensifies.” 

Due to the continued surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, the government placed Metro Manila and nearby provinces under the stricter enhanced community quarantine classification until April 4.

- With a report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News.