BJMP, justice sector get P10-million aid from EU for COVID-19 response
MANILA, Philippines – The country’s justice sector and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) have received P10 million worth of aid from the European Union (EU) through its Governance in Justice (GOJUST) program for use in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the EU, part of the assistance is intended to ease the conditions in BJMP facilities, which has imposed a no-visit rule ever since the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.
“Mr. Thomas Wiersing, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the European Union Delegation to the Philippines, said that part of this package is the Php 3 million worth of 120 multi-media tablets and different kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies which are being turned over to the [BJMP],” the EU said in a statement.
“These gadgets and equipment are provided by the GOJUST Programme in support of BJMP’s efforts to address the COVID-19 situation in detention facilities,” the EU added.
Dir. Allan Sullano Iral, BJMP chief, received the gadgets and equipment.
The EU said that the PPEs and disinfectants would be distributed to jail facilities with high congestion areas — namely jails in Quezon City, Davao City, Cebu City, Naga City, Angeles City, and Bacolod City.
Meanwhile, the gadgets would be used for BJMP’s e-Dalaw program, which allows persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to communicate with their friends and relatives as the pandemic forced people to adhere to physical distancing and stay-at-home protocols.
PDLs can also use the tablets to virtually attend the hearings of their cases, the EU said.
“The provision of tablets and personal protective equipment reaffirms the European Union’s commitment to enable the justice sector to address the needs of the court and penitentiary systems during this pandemic,” Wiersing said.
GOJUST is the EU’s program with the country’s justice sector, including the Supreme Court, Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, to help in crafting policies and to fix high congestion in detention facilities.
Last May 25, BJMP reported that at least 517 PDLs have contracted the dreaded coronavirus, after initial reports of transmissions within various jail facilities. Amid this threat, BJMP was forced to release 4,188 PDLs to protect them from infection.
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