In a move to decongest overcrowded jails amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said a total of 21,858 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have now been released from March 17 to July 13 in the 470 jail facilities managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) nationwide.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that of the 21,858 PDLs released, 15,102 were paralegal releases through bail, plea-bargaining, parole, or probation.
At the same time, 6,756 were non-paralegal releases through acquittal or served a sentence.
Of the PDLs released, 409 were elderly, 621 were sick, and 24 were pregnant.
“Patunay lang ito na sa gitna ng pandemya, hindi nakakaligtaan ng pamahalaan ang kapakanan at kabutihan ng ating mga kapatid na nakapiit sa mga kulungan, lalong-lalo na iyong mga matatanda, mahihina at buntis. Nagpapasalamat din kami sa Supreme Court sa kanilang mga bagong guidelines na nakatulong sa maraming PDLs,” he said.
“The DILG through the BJMP is also taking concrete measures to decongest our jails such as improving and putting up more jail facilities and fast-tracking the court hearings of PDLs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the DILG Chief said that the BJMP is conducting targeted testing in 51 jail facilities and three BJMP offices that have been compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Año said that of the jail units, Region VII had the highest number of positive cases at 731; followed by CALABARZON at 146; and National Capital Region at 139. Other BJMP facilities with reported cases are Region IX with 84; Region III with 13; MIMAROPA and Region VI with four cases each; Cordillera Administrative Region and Region XI with one case each.
As of July 15, 2020, there are only 180 active COVID-19 cases in the BJMP, 126 of whom are PDLS, and 54 are BJMP personnel.
Eight hundred ninety-five PDLs and jail personnel have recovered, while 11 died from the disease.
He said that the recovery rate for PDLs is 82% and 69% for BJMP personnel, while the death rate is at 1.05% for PDLs and 0.56% for BJMP personnel.
Año said the BJMP is sustaining its stringent measures to keep its other facilities COVID-free.
These include contract tracing, immediate isolation of suspected cases, proper medical attention, electronic dalaw, or “e-dalaw,” set up of handwashing areas, and regular disinfection in jail premises, among others.