Sotto wants answers on Bilibid deaths due to COVID-19, to initiate probe

© Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB Scarcity and maldistribution of physicians in the country, undeniably a problem that needs to be remedied, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in co-sponsoring Wednesday, May 13, 2020, the proposed Medical Scholarship Act…

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday said he would initiate a Senate investigation on the deaths of 19 inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) supposedly due to COVID-19.

“I’m filing a resolution investigating the deaths in the NBP. Too many unanswered questions,” Sotto said in a message to reporters.

“Why no autopsies? Were relatives informed? Why was the DOJ not informed?” he added.

The resolution will be filed either today or on Tuesday, and the start of the inquiry can be expected after the session resumes next week.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who chairs the Senate committee on health, said he supports Sotto’s intention to launch a probe on the issue.

“Konektado ang isyu na ito sa mga nakaraang Senate hearings kung saan sinisikap nating pagbutihin ang correctional system sa bansa… Nais rin nating alamin kung paano masisiguro na ang kalusugan at kapakanan ng mga nasa kulungan ay maaalagaan,” he said.

“I reiterate that it is every Filipino’s right to receive medical and health care, especially now that we are still in the middle of a global health crisis,” he added.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spokesperson Colonel Gabriel Chaclag said 19 inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 have already died. He added that the national penitentiary has recorded a total of 343 infected cases, as of July 20.

On Sunday, BuCor chief Gerald Bantag also confirmed that there have been persons deprived of liberty Bilibid who died of COVID-19. However, he said he could not disclose the names of the deceased as he cited the Data Privacy Act.

It was reported that a man named Jaybee Niño Sebastian has died and his remains have been cremated.

According to a report by GMA News stringer Rossel Calderon on Dobol B sa News TV, a death certificate showed that a 40-year-old man named Jaybee Niño Sebastian died on Saturday at the NBP Hospital.

The cause of death, as listed on the death certificate, was acute myocardial infarction as a complication of COVID-19.

In October 2016, at a House hearing on the alleged drug trade inside the NBP, high-profile inmate Jaybee Niño Sebastian tagged Senator Leila de Lima as a protector of illegal drug operations in the facility.—AOL, GMA News

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