BuCor restores family visitation rights in Bilibid

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) will restore family visitation rights in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Wednesday, October 30.

"Bukas po (tomorrow)," BuCor Spokesperson Wena Dalagan told Rappler in a text message Tuesday morning, October 29, when asked when visits would resume. Visiting hours will be from 7:30 am to 2pm, Wednesdays to Sundays.

"Nakakasa na po ang visitation bukas. May instruction lang po si DG (Gerald Bantag) na maglinis ang mga PDL ng kanilang paligid (Visitation is set for tomorrow. Director General Gerald Bantag has an instruction to Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) to clean their surroundings)," added Major Alberto Tapiru, also a spokesperson for BuCor. 

Tapiru said visiting hours will be the same, and that Bucor "will just adjust accordingly."

Visitation rights have been suspended since the first week of October. BuCor Chief Director General Gerald Bantag led the demolition of shanties inside Bilibid on October 9, causing tension and prompting BuCor to suspend visitation rights over safety concerns.

Families and rights group KAPATID said that as many as 7 prisoners have died since October 15 due to dehydration and lack of medicines, as relatives agonized over the lack of access to the inmates.

A convict's wife told Rappler she saw the prisoners' sacks of rice, eggs, and packs of noodles brought out of the jail when the shanties were demolished. This got them worried knowing that rationed food has never been enough for inmates.

A Senate investigation has shown that prisoners were eating only broth out of their slashed P39 daily meal budget per inmate.

Families were also concerned about their lack of access to medication.

Dalagan denied that the cause of deaths were dehydration or lack of medication, telling Rappler in an earlier message that "the causes of death are tuberculosis, pneumonia, and cardiac arrest."

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has earlier said they will monitor developments in Bilbid, and will call out unlawful actions and "institute disciplinary action whenever warranted."

BuCor is an agency attached to the Department of Justice. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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