Group wants prisoners included in gov’t Covid-19 mass vaccination plan
MANILA, Philippines – Persons deprived of liberty (PDL), including political prisoners, should also be included in the government’s mass vaccination program as they are not spared from the dangers of Covid-19, Kapatid, a group of political prisoners’ relatives, said on Tuesday.
In a letter addressed to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said that the 215,000 prisoners, including 680 political prisoners, should not be denied their right to get a shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Subhuman conditions make prison facilities a reservoir of infectious disease,” Lim said. “Ignoring them in the national efforts to contain Covid-19 will result in failure since prisons and the communities surrounding them are linked.”
“With an unenviable record of having the highest jail congestion rate in the world, Philippine prisons are a death trap. Even before Covid-19, prison agencies report that one PDL dies every day at the New Bilibid Prison while 300 to 800 PDLs die every year in Bureau of Jail Management and Penology facilities,” Lim added in her letter.
Lim then urged Duque, who is also the chairman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) “to help ensure the rights to life and health of prisoners, including all political prisoners.”
“Please do not fail them this time like how they were failed when our petition seeking the release of medically vulnerable prisoners—the very old, the very sick and pregnant women—took five months with the Supreme Court only to be remanded to the lower courts for even slower action,” the Kapatid spokesperson added.
The Philippines officially kicked off its Covid-19 vaccination program on Monday after receiving 600,000 vaccines from China’s Sinovac.
INQUIRER.net has reached out to the Department of Health for comment on the matter, but has yet to get a response as of this writing.
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