MANILA – The government, through the Office of Solicitor General, is now preparing its comment on the petition filed before the Supreme Court which seeks the temporary liberty of inmates who are at high risk of contracting coronavirus the disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“Inihahanda na po ng Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Solicitor General, ang sagot po doon sa petition na ‘yun (The Department of Justice, through the Solicitor General, is now preparing its comment on the petition),” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday gave the DOJ, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) until April 24 to submit their comments on the petition filed by a group of inmates seeking their temporary release.
Over 20 elderly, sick, and pregnant detainees have asked SC to approve their plea for temporary release on humanitarian grounds as Covid-19 threatens Philippine jails.
The BJMP announced on Friday that nine detainees at the Quezon City Jail and nine bureau personnel have tested positive for Covid-19.
On Friday, the DILG also appealed to local government units to include jails in mass testing to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The DOJ earlier ensured that measures have been in place to ensure humanitarian treatment for old and sickly inmates even before the Covid-19 pandemic emerged.
Nograles said the BJMP and BuCor have already set up quarantine and isolation facilities for those who are suspected to have acquired Covid-19.
“So if ever may indication, symptom, alam na ng BJMP [at BuCor] personnel kung anong gagawin. Isolate agad (So if ever there is indication or symptom, BJMP, and BuCor personnel already know what to do. They will isolate those who exhibit symptoms),” he said.
Non-government organization International Drug Policy Consortium earlier warned that people deprived of liberty are at higher risk of contracting Covid-19.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson also cautioned on April 7 that the Philippines would face “catastrophic” health problems in the coming weeks, should the government fail to address the overcrowding in detention facilities nationwide. (PNA)