Drivers nabbed for protest face COVID risks in jail
Marc Jayson Cayabyab (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The six jeepney drivers who were arrested for holding a protest action along EDSA in Caloocan on Tuesday are at risk of contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in detention, their lawyer said yesterday.

A detainee reportedly died of suspected COVID-19 while being held in a makeshift custodial facility beside the city hall, the drivers’ lawyer Henrie Enaje told The STAR.

Elmer Cordero, 72; Severino Ramos, 59; Wilson Ramilia, 43; Ramon Paloma, 48; Ruben Baylon, 59, national deputy secretary general of transport group PISTON, and Arsenio Ymas Jr., 56, were taken into policy custody on Tuesday.

“Their protest was a legitimate exercise of their civil and political rights. They have been jobless for months,” Enaje said.

He said over 100 detainees are being held in the makeshift detention facility, which is fit for only 20 people if physical distancing is observed.

Enaje appealed to police to withdraw the charges against the drivers on humanitarian grounds, adding that jeepneys are still not allowed to operate in Metro Manila.

Caloocan police chief Col. Dario Menor denied that a detainee died of COVID-19 while in police custody.

He said 51 detainees underwent rapid testing because the test is a requirement before they are transferred to other jails run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

“We have 675 people in police custody in Caloocan so we could not avoid jail congestion,” Menor said.

Asked if the police would withdraw the charges against the drivers, Menor said is it up to the prosecutor’s office.

The jeepney drivers remain in detention as of yesterday pending the resolution of the cases filed against them by the police.

Charges of disobedience, conducting protest without permit and violating a city ordinance on social distancing were filed against them.

Muntinlupa lockdown

The Muntinlupa government is eyeing to extend the three-day lockdown in Barangay Alabang to two more weeks to contain the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Jaime Fresnedi said yesterday.

Fresnedi said they are studying the extension of the extreme localized community quarantine at Morning Breeze Homes in Alabang.

“We will do that if cases of COVID-19 infections continue to increase despite strict quarantine measures in the community,” he said.

The lockdown was supposed to end today.

The city health office said Morning Breeze registered 10 cases of COVID-19 as of June 2. Ralph Edwin Villanueva

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