Over 18,000 detainees released to decongest jails during pandemic - BJMP

Aleta Nieva-Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 08 2020 08:34 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2020 10:43 PM

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MANILA – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Wednesday said that 18,915 detainees have been released to decongest jail facilities during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

BJMP Chief Jail Director Allan Iral said most of those released were involved in minor cases and some have already served their sentence.

“Since March up to July today, meron na po kaming napalabas na 18,915 na mga PDLs. Ang elderly dito, ito yung 60 years old pataas, 388. Yung mga may sakit, 586. At saka, yung mga buntis 21 yung naipalabas natin. Itong mga napalabas nating vulnerable o high risk PDLs ay 995, almost 1,000,” Iral said on ABS-CBN TeleRadyo's Kwentuhang Lokal. 

Iral credited their paralegals, the courts and the judges for the release of the qualified detainees, who are formally called, Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs).

The highly contagious virus has compromised 48 out of bureau's 470 jail facilities. Three regional offices were affected while Region 7 remains under lockdown after 3 personnel tested positive. 

“Meron talaga po tayong compromised jail facility. Aaminin po natin ‘yan. Hindi po tayo exempted sa COVID,” Iral said. 

The BJMP, he said, is doing everything to ensure that other jail facilities remain COVID-free, including imposing the minimum health standard required like wearing of face mask, physical distancing, hand washing, providing foot baths, monitoring and isolating sick PDLs.

“Dito sa compromised jail facilities, continue yung ating triage, hindi lang sa PDL, kasama rin ang personnel,” he said. 

Isolation cells have been identified, and 4 Ligtas COVID Centers were put up (one each in Metro Manila, Region 3, Region 4A and in Cebu). “Lahat na magpo-positive na PDL natin, doon natin dinadala,” Iral said.

“Yung ibang regions na walang Ligtas COVID Centers pero merong silang mga selda na naka-prepare, automatic, pag na-detect sila, even meron lang silang symptoms, ina-isolate na kaagad natin at tine-test,” he added. 

Iral said that out of the 926 PDLs who tested positive for the disease, 739 have recovered, and only 141 remain as active cases. 

Of the 168 confirmed cases among jail officers, 117 have recovered, 50 remain as active, and 1 succumbed to the disease.

“Merong din tayong personnel na namatay - yung jail warden natin ng Argao District Jail sa Cebu. Namatay siya, then na-swab, lumabas sa result COVID-positive siya. Kaya lahat ng nakasalamuha ng warden natin, naka-isolate sila,” Iral said. 

He believes the recovery rate of the cases in the BJMP is very good as almost 70 percent of COVID-19 positive officers and PDLs recuperated. 

Meanwhile, the BJMP chief also said that relatives of PDLs can tap the e-dalaw service to connect with their loved ones as visitation is still suspended.

“Kung gusto nilang makontak mga mahal nila sa buhay, puwede naman silang mag-e-dalaw. Makipag-coordinate sila sa BJMP,” he said.