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Nearly 500 BuCor inmates have died since January 2020 -Guevarra

Close to 500 inmates in Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facilities have died since the year started, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Tuesday.

Citing BuCor data, Guevarra said 476 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) died from January to July 19, 2020. These include both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 deaths.

BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag told the DOJ on Monday that 21 inmates have died of COVID-19 since March, among them Jaybee Sebastian, a convict who was supposed to testify in Senator Leila De Lima's drug case trial.

Before this, the DOJ announced on July 14 that the BuCor had recorded 343 COVID-19 cases, 323 recoveries, and 18 deaths since it started monitoring in March. The DOJ said the bureau had not logged any new case in the first two weeks of July.

The BuCor has seven facilities nationwide, but it said COVID-19 cases were recorded in just two: the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa and the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong.

In November last year, the Bilibid hospital chief said on the average, one prisoner at the national penitentiary dies each day, a death rate that he said was "critical."

Only 13 doctors attend to the more than 47,000 people imprisoned at the BuCor's facilities, NBP Hospital chief Henry Fabro said at the time. -MDM, GMA News