By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Cases of inmates dying inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) continue, with four more reported after the national penitentiary was placed in “critical” state.
The latest was a 72-year-old rape convict who died Saturday morning.
Maj. Alberto Tapiru, Bureau of Correction (BuCor) spokesman, said a 63-year-old rape convict at NBP’s Maximum Security Compound also died Friday afternoon due to Diabetes Melitus Type 2.
Tapiru added that two more convicts, including one returnee who collapsed while taking a bath, also died Thursday night.
Rights group KAPATID said that inmates at NBP Minimum Security Compound saw an “elderly man” on a stretcher during the incident.
The national penitentiary is now considered in “critical condition” as the rate of reported deaths of inmates breached a “universally accepted computation,” said NBP Hospital chief Henry Fabro.
On Saturday, KAPATID urged the BuCor to let the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to set up tents inside the NBP to provide temporary shelters to inmates whose “sleeping quarters” were demolished following BuCor’s clearing operations.
This way, the group said, sickness and cases of “severe dehydration,” which worsen inmates’ condition at the congested penitentiary, would be averted.
Inmates would also be protected from the heat and the rains.
The group said the proposal might just be a short-term solution to address the concern, but stressed that it should be done immediately as “they spell life and death for prisoners.”
KAPATID also urged BuCor to restore the supply of electricity for the whole day so inmates could boil their waters as access to clean water is reportedly limited inside the penitentiary.
Ma. Christina Guevarra, the group’s media liaison, also recommended using water purifier tablets for the meantime while the proposed water stations are underway.
Myocardial infection or heart attack due to various causes is the number one cause of death of the inmates, according to Fabro.
Meanwhile, BuCor chief Gerald Bantag said arthritis, tuberculosis (TB), and hypertension are the prevalent diseases inside the NBP.
Fabro said that at least one inmate dies each day inside the NBP, which was attributed to lack of medical staff and “poorly equipped” hospital.
There are only four doctors attending to the medical needs of 18,000 inmates at NBP’s Maximum Security Compound. Bantag said,their number is insufficient.
Bantag bared that he and Health Secretary Francisco Duque were set to talk to find ways to address BuCor’s concern.