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DOH asks BuCor complete COVID-19 report following deaths of high profile Bilibid inmates

The Department of Health (DOH) has requested the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to submit  a complete report on COVID-19 cases following the deaths of some high profile inmates in New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Interviewed on GMA Network’s Unang Hirit on Tuesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department only receives initial reports from BuCor about COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

“Pero, 'yung kabuuan ng datos, nakikipag-usap po tayo ngayon sa kanilang institution para po makuha natin 'yung buong, complete data from them,” Vergeire said.

She explained that DOH initially receives figures on the COVID-19 situation in the national penitentiary. Then, the department has to verify the names and identities later on.

"Pagdating sa amin ay numero muna saka pa ho nabe-verify 'yan kung ano po ang mga pangalan at kung ano ang identities, Vergeire said.

“Sa ngayon po, hindi pa po namin nakukuha 'yung kumpletong impormasyon,” she added.

The DOH earlier reminded jail authorities that health protocols should be strictly observed in jail facilities.

BuCor reported that 21 inmates have already died due to COVID-19 in NBP, after reports surfaced that high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian passed away and his remains have already been cremated.

Sebastian testified against detained Senator Leila de Lima at a congressional hearing in 2016 regarding the alleged illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.

Some speculation emerged that there was foul play in the deaths of the inmates or the deaths were faked in order to release the high profile prisoners in exchange of millions of money.

These conspiracy theories were already dismissed by BuCor chief Gerald Bantag. Bantag went to the Department of Justice on Monday to explain the reported deaths.

On Monday, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairperson Dante Jimenez said they want assurance that there was no foul play or corruption involved on the deaths of the prisoners.

The Commission on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation will conduct a probe into the reported COVID-19 deaths in NBP.

On Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the death and cremation of the inmates who supposedly tested positive for COVID-19.—AOL, GMA News