MANILA – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) have temporarily suspended visits for convicts in their prison facilities as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Citing safety concerns for persons deprived of liberty under his watch, BuCor director-general Gerald Bantag ordered a week-long suspension of visitation privileges.
“In light of the announcement of the Department of Health (DOH) raising Philippines as Code Red Alert (Sub Level 1) and President Duterte’s declaration of a Public Health emergency over the Covid-19 concern, the Bureau of Corrections strictly implements its safety protocols and hereby suspends all visitation privileges for one week starting Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in the New Bilibid Prison and all prison facilitations,” Bantag said in a statement.
Aside from the NBP in Muntinlupa City, the BuCor also runs other prisons and penal farms in the country.
Meanwhile, BJMP spokesperson Jail Insp. Xavier Solda said the move, which will be in effect until March 25, is needed to prevent the spread of the Covid-19.
Jail visits in the following BJMP facilities were suspended as of noon on Wednesday:
-all BJMP facilities in the National Capital Region, Ilocos Region, and Davao Region;
-In Central Luzon, all jails in the province of Bulacan, Angeles District Jail Male and Female Dormitories in Pampanga, Cabanatuan City District Jail, Talavera Municipal Jail, and San Jose City District Jail in Nueva Ecija;
-In Calabarzon, the jails of the entire Cavite province, in Rizal, Cainta, Binangonan and Antipolo jails, in Laguna province, jail facilities in Cabuyao, Calamba and San Pablo.
In other regions where visitations are ongoing, strict precautionary measures are followed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
These include a prohibition of entry to symptomatic visitors, no-contact policy among visitors and inmates, proper ventilation in areas designated for visitations and massive information drive among personnel, inmates and visitors, among others.
“In the event that suspected cases within the immediate locality where the jail is situated was confirmed or a pronouncement has been made by the Local Chief Executive on the temporary suspension of classes or any public gathering to prevent the spread of the said virus, wardens may suspend the visitation,” Solda said.
He added that visitations can be made online via the ‘e-Dalaw’ system that relatives of inmates may coordinate with jail personnel for its schedule.
He also said the BJMP has adequate personnel to monitor the health of the inmates, especially the elderly.
BuCor is under the Department of Justice while the BJMP is an attached agency of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. (With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA)