Guevarra: ‘Not fair’ to say DOJ has not been transparent on conditions at BuCor
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Sunday it was “not fair” to say that their department has not been transparent regarding the conditions at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
Guevarra made the remark after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called for transparency in the situation of inmates to prevent deaths due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), calling out the BuCor and the DOJ “for their lack of transparency and non-cooperation.”
“DOJ has been trying to uncover strange things happening at the BuCor. That’s why it has ordered the [National Bureau of Investigation] to step in. It is not fair to say that the department has not been transparent about the conditions at the BuCor,” Guevarra said.
In its statement, CHR said that it has sent several requests to the DOJ regarding the to list of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) confined at Site Harry—which is the BuCor’s isolation facility—and/or any other quarantine and isolation area, as well as the list of PDLs who have died due to COVID-19.
CHR said they have yet to receive a response.
But according to Guevarra, Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco had already requested for the said list from BuCor.
“This kind of information is available only from the primary source. The DOJ does not keep the official files of the BuCor nor the personal records of PDLs,” said Guevarra.
This was confirmed by Marco.
Several high-profile inmates from the National Bilibid Prison have died of COVID-19.
Citing information from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, CHR said there is a 534% prison congestion rate in detention facilities as of March 2020.
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