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By: Mylen Manto | Published Thursday, April 30, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia issues Executive Order No. 15 setting the protocols and guidelines to be observed in the release of qualified prisoners to protect Cebuanos as Covid-19 cases rise up in jail facilities. (File Photo)

Prisoners due for release will be put under mandatory quarantine and swab testing in their respective jail facilities before getting out, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) No. 15 which laid down these protocols and guidelines to be observed in the release of qualified inmates to protect Cebuanos from the virus, after Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Cebu jail facilities.

The Supreme Court earlier issued Circular No. 91-2020 addressed to all judges in first and second level courts for the release of qualified PDLs after serving at least the minimum of the penalty for the offense charged. 

On Wednesday, April 29, Garcia met Regional Trial Court judges of the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, and Talisay together with  representatives of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Cebu Chapter and component cities of Cebu Province to establish the protocols.

Upon receipt of the release order from the court, prisoners of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) will be placed in the facility’s quarantine area to undergo a 14-day quarantine before going home to their respective residences.

The Jail Warden will inform the Provincial Health Office (PHO) about the inmates on quarantine for monitoring and swab testing on the seventh day of the quarantine period. The swab test shall be sent to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), a sub-national laboratory for COVID-19 testing.

The Cebu Provincial Government will shoulder the food and other personal needs of the inmates during the quarantine period.

If an inmate on quarantine tests positive of Covid-19, he or she shall be brought to VSMMC or any other designated treatment facility for proper management and treatment. 

Containment and contract tracing measures will then follow.

However, in case of negative test results, the inmate will be sent home after the completion of the quarantine period. 

The PHO will coordinate with the officials of the local government unit (LGU) of the inmate’s residence, either the mayor or the city or municipal health officer, to prepare for the latter’s transportation to his or her hometown. 

A quarantine completion certification will then be issued by PHO with a copy furnished to the court that issued the release order. 

The LGU where the inmate resides shall send a vehicle or ambulance to pick up the latter from the CPDRC. Upon arrival at the residence, he or she shall be subjected to the LGU quarantine protocols, which involve another 14-day quarantine period.  

Upon completion of the home quarantine period, the LGU will issue a certification and copies will be sent to PHO and the court that issued the release order. 

The protocols are also applied to prisoners who are Cebu Province residents detained in city jails operated by the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology (BJMP) and other jails operated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Garcia said inmates who live in Cebu City will be turned over to the City Government of Cebu. 

The EO took effect on Wednesday, April 29. (Mylen Manto)