DOJ streamlines process for parole, pardon to ease jail congestion

Originally published by CNN Philippines on 21/04/2020

Summary

The Department of Justice (DOJ) approved simpler rules and faster processing of requests for parole and executive clemency as Philippine authorities rush to decongest jails amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, the DOJ said the order removes most of the paperwork required for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) seeking parole and executive clemency.As background, the Board of Pardons and Parole can grant parole or early release to an inmate who has served the minimum period of his sentence. Meanwhile, only the President can grant executive clemency, which involves the reduction of jail time or the removal of a person’s criminal liability.Prisoners aged 65 or older are also able to use the easier parole process, provided that they have served at least five years of their sentence. Those with serious medical ailments that will be able to prove that their continued imprisonment will worsen their condition may also use the easier parole process, but would need certification from a designated doctor from the Department of Health or the Malaca├▒ang clinic director.These guidelines do exclude from its coverage PDLs convicted of heinous crimes or in cases involving illegal drugs, or those classified as high risk by the Bureau of Corrections.

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BJMP builds coronavirus isolation facility

Originally published by Rappler on 08/04/2020

Summary

The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said that it has completed a coronavirus isolation facility at its new jail site in Payatas, Quezon City, that will house Filipinos with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. The facility was set up with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and its Philippine counterpart, and has a 48-bed capacity consisting of 4 tents with electricity, water, sanitation, as well as medical consumables, basic medical equipment and hospital furniture and hygiene materials. Additionally, The ICRC said in a separate statement that 3 more isolation facilities were being set up outside Metro Manila: Fernando District Jail in Pampanga (for Region III), Quezon District Jail in Pagbilao (Region IV-A), and the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.Aside from building the isolation facility, the BJMP also implemented other preventive measures such as physical distancing, wearing of face masks by personnel and PDL, use of foot bath, thermal scanning, and the disinfection of facilities.

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COVID-19: Lessons from Philippines jails show how to fight infectious coronavirus disease

Originally published by International Committee of the Red Cross on 23/03/2020

Summary

This article compares tuberculosis (TB) with COVID-19 and notes that the lessons learned from fighting TB in Philippines’ jails could help inform the fight against COVID-19 inside prisons. These lessons include infection control protocols (proper entry screening and mass screenings inside detention facilities); and creating isolation units for infected patients to halt the disease’s further spread. Additionally, masks are a must for inmates, visitors and jail staff inside the infirmary facility. The article also notes the importance of pursuing immediate treatment if symptoms are shown, as early detection is key in preventing the spread of disease.Finally, preparation is key to stopping the spread. The Philippines leadership saw that inmates in congested jails were more vulnerable to TB. As such, they set up a facility to better treat inmates with TB and to stop the further spread of TB in jails. There, they are attended by jail health staff and receive medicine, and their chances of recovering are much higher. The article highlights that just because they are in jail, it does not mean that they should receive a lesser standard of health care as compared to those in the community. This same lesson can be applied to COVID-19, in that it is key to create isolation units for those that are infected.

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BuCor, BJMP ramp up efforts to protect inmates vs. Covid-19

Originally published by Benjamin Pulta – Philippine News Agency on 17/03/2020

Summary

This article highlights statements made by the Bureau of Corrections (“Bucor”) spokesperson concerning the steps taken to protect and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on prisoners.The spokesperson stated that inmates are urged not to congregate and have been provided with hygiene kits and protective masks. Additionally, all facilities are off-limits to visitors except for food deliveries, which are screened. The Bucor has also purchased personal protection equipment (PPEs) and misting machines to disinfect areas, personnel, and equipment. Finally, they are conducting an information drive for prisoners’ education in personal hygiene in order to fight the spread of disease.

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