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DILG urges BJMP: Keep jails healthy and drug-free

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DILG urges BJMP: Keep jails healthy and drug-free
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. had his first command visit at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) National Headquarters on August 9.
Bureau of Jail Management and Penology release

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government urged the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to ensure the welfare of persons deprived of liberty amid the coronavirus pandemic as he vowed to crack down on drugs and criminality inside jails.

In a speech at his command visit at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos also vowed to conduct surprise drug tests in all the jails managed by the BJMP around the country.

“I’m warning each and every one of you — officers, members of the BJMP. I’m going to do this. I will personally go to our jails and I will be conducting surprise drug test to PDL,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

“Sometimes there are rumors that some big-time drug lords are operating in jails themselves. The issue here is communication. How do they reach their contacts on the outside? We need to cut their communication. They use phones to conduct their drug trade. So we need signal jammers to stop their communication outside."

Data as of end-June of this year, shows that the BJMP houses a total of 131,193 PDLs in 477 jails nationwide, good for a 387 percent congestion rate with 337 jails congested.

In the same speech, Abalos urged BJMP personnel to monitor health of inmmates to avoid the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and COVID-19. He also raised the possibility of PDLs undergoing medical screening and physical exams prior to their admission to jails.

"If we can conduct a test for TB (tuberculosis), test for HIV and hepatitis for PDLs, it would be better if we could do it. After all, the greater population inside the jails is at risk if there is an infected individual," said Abalos.

"Infection is faster when our facilities are crowded. And now we have the problem of Monkey Pox. So what I want is for us to come up with a memorandum circular on the prevention and response of the BJMP in relation to Monkey Pox."  

BENHUR ABALOS

BUREAU OF JAIL MANAGEMENT AND PENOLOGY

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