Gov’t asked to elevate sick, elderly prisoners in COVID-19 vaccination priority list
MANILA, Philippines — The government should consider placing sick and elderly prisoners higher in the COVID-19 vaccination priority list to avoid the disease’s spread in jailing facilities, Kapatid, a group of political prisoners’ relatives, said on Thursday.
In a letter to the Department of Health (DOH), Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim pointed out that 96 of 683 political prisoners as of Jan. 2021 are sick with life-threatening illnesses while 58 are elderly, noting that two political prisoners have already passed away during the pandemic.
She cited the case of Jesus Alegre, 75, who was rushed to Ospital ng Muntinlupa this week for emergency diagnosis and treatment, and the case of Elizabeth, 41, a political prisoner in Sorsogon who was scheduled to give birth in end-February or this first week of March.
“It is important to us to stress the situation of political prisoners in particular because even in detention they continue to be the subject of reprisals,” Lim said.
“We thus press that the elderly PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) and those with grave illnesses, whom we focused on in our frustrated petition at the Supreme Court for humanitarian releases, be elevated for priority immunization as part of the most at-risk groups to directly control the spread of sickness and deaths inside prison facilities, which also affects the communities surrounding them,” she added.
The DOH earlier told Lim in a letter that PDLs as determined by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the Bureau of Corrections are included in the government’s priority list for vaccination, since they are considered as groups at significant higher risk.
Lim, however, requested that the full list of “Priority Eligible Groups” and the specific categorizations be widely released “to reassure all sectors and groups how and wherein they are included in the national deployment plan of COVID-19 vaccination.”
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