By Joseph Cuevas
Families of political prisoners expressed fear their loved ones may contract the coronavirus after different jails across the country reported detainees getting sick from the disease.
The Bureau of Corrections reported an additional 27 new cases of Covid-19 from the Correctional Institute for Women bringing the total case to 50. A 56 year-old inmate from Medium Security Compound of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa died last April 23 at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Cebu City jails recorded the highest number of cases at 207 while the Quezon City Jail reported nine positive cases last week.
According to Kapatid, the group of families and friends of political prisoners, no lockdown or even quarantine measures at this stage can contain the outbreak of the disease in the country’s prisons the Philippine Red Cross said is 500% over-congested.
The group earlier warned the government that jails are safe against the virus and urged immediate and extensive testing of both inmates and personnel to stop contagion in prisons/
Kapatid, counsel slams OSG comment
Meanwhile, Kapatid lamented the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) comment to dismiss the petition filed by the group last April 8 asking the Supreme Court (SC) to free low-risk offenders from prisons on humanitarian grounds, including old and the sick prisoners.
In a statement, Kapatid said that OSG’s summary dismissal of their petition is “the height of callousness and disregard for human life.”
The group added that the OSG’s reply to the SC’s order to comment on the petition became a platform for attacking the Left instead of addressing the plight of the elderly and the sick, including a 21-year old prisoner afflicted with leprosy and a six-month pregnant woman.
This petition, while initiated by families of political prisoners, is meant to help all prisoners at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic they say is now invading prison facilities.
Atty. Maria Kristina Conti of the Public Interest Law Center told Kodao that the OSG’s comment to the petition maligned and red-tagged political prisoners.
Conti added that it’s because the OSG cannot deny that the petitioners are indeed vulnerable to the deadly virus and cannot promise detainees are safe, it resorted to attacking character and motives.
“Legally, the OSG failed to refute the application for equity relief in these extraordinary times. We hope that the Supreme Court sees through the government’s rhetoric and gas-lighting tactics, The virus is the enemy, not the people,” Conti said.
The PILC and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers are set to file a reply on Monday, April 27, to the comment filed by the OSG. #