Nearly 22,000 inmates released from PH jails amid coronavirus pandemic — DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   July 22, 2020   •   749

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday said that a total of 21,858 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) have been released from jail facilities managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

In a statement, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said these PDLs were released from March 17 to July 13 from 470 BJMP facilities nationwide in a move to decongest overcrowded jails amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Of the total number of inmates released, 15,102 were paralegal releases through bail, plea-bargaining, parole, or probation while 6,756 were non-paralegal releases through acquittal or served sentence.

Of the PDLs released, 409 were elderly, 621 were sick, and 24 were pregnant.

“Patunay lamang 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,” Año 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 added.

Meanwhile, the DILG Chief said 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, Año said there are only 180 active COVID-19 cases in the BJMP, 126 of whom are PDLs, and 54 are BJMP personnel.

He said 895 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.

Phl expands coverage of travel restrictions to 7 more countries due to Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ travel restrictions to control the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant had been expanded to include seven more countries.

In a statement released Sunday (November 28), Cabinet Secretary and acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) added Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy to the red list.

Already on the red list are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.

“Inbound international travel of all persons, regardless of vaccination status, coming from or who have been to red list countries/jurisdictions/territories within the last 14 days prior to arrival to any port of the Philippines shall not be allowed,” Nograles said.

“Only Filipinos returning to the country via government-initiated or non-government-initiated repatriation and Bayanihan Flights may be allowed entry subject to the prevailing entry, testing, and quarantine protocols for Red List countries, jurisdictions, or territories,” he added.

The red list or areas considered as “high-risk” for COVID-19 will be updated after December 15.

Passengers who are already in transit and all those who have been to the red list countries/territories/jurisdictions within 14 days immediately preceding arrival to the Philippines and who arrive before 12:01 a.m. of November 30 are exempted from this restriction.

They will, however, undergo facility-based quarantine for 14 days with testing on the seventh day.

Nograles further said that passengers merely transiting through the red countries, will not be deemed as having come from or having been to the said country if they stayed at the airport the whole time and were not cleared for entry by immigration authorities.

However, they will still be required to comply with existing testing and quarantine protocols. —/mbmf

Gov’t eyes possible return of face shield policy amid Omicron variant threat

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is mulling over the possibility of bringing back the implementation of the face shield policy following the threats from the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron (B1.1.529), said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

Galvez made the announcement on Sunday (November 28) after the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa and other European countries, causing global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

“We will look at the possibility. ‘Yan ang inaano ni (Health) Sec (Francisco) Duque. He is pro na maibalik ang any protections na pwede natin gamitin kasi some people from WHO (World Health Organization) also believe that kaya nagkaroon ng magandang result sa Delta as to others because of the protection of face shield,” said Galvez during a virtual presser with reporters.

Galvez also said that no case of Omicron variant, which is considered to be more contagious, has been reported in the country as of yet.

President Rodrigo Duterte had allowed face shields to be optional for Alert Level 3, 2, and 1 but it is still required for Alert level 5 areas. —/mbmf

Duterte calls for creation of framework for vaccine certificate recognition

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called for the creation of a framework for vaccine certificate recognition which will allow fully-vaccinated individuals, regardless of vaccine brand, a safe and hassle-free cross-border travel, the Presidential Communications team said Sunday (November 28).

“We need a framework on vaccine certificate recognition that is scientific, non-discriminatory, and compliant with WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines,” the President said.

The statement further said that the President’s sentiment comes after the decision of some countries, including the European Union, to only allow individuals who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 using the four vaccines recognized by its European Medicines Agency.

“One must not withhold recognition on the basis of vaccines used when access to certain brands remain unequal,” Duterte said. —/mbmf

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