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COVID-19: Almost 10,000 Philippine Inmates Freed As Virus Hits Prisons

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Nearly 10,000 prisoners have been released in the Philippines as the infection has spread to its overcrowded jails.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippines

A Supreme Court official made the disclosure on Saturday, May 2, 2020, and the move comes on the heels of a directive to lower to release those awaiting trial in prison as they could not afford bail.

Speaking to reporters, Associate Supreme Court Justice Mario Victor Leonen said the court was very much aware of the congestion of the prison facilities, announcing the release of 9,731 inmates.

cases have been reported in some of the country’s most overcrowded jails, with both inmates and corrections personnel affected.

An overcrowded prison
An overcrowded prison

The country’s prison system has cells sometimes filled to five times their capacity due to inadequate infrastructure and a slow-moving and overburdened judicial system. This makes social distancing all but impossible in the jails.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a crackdown on drugs in 2016, overcrowding has been a problem as thousands have been sent to prison.

Among those who have reported outbreaks are the Quezon City Jail in the capital of Manila (a facility so crowded that inmates take turns sleeping on staircases and open-air basketball courts.

The worst outbreaks so far are two in the central island of Cebu, where two city jails have announced a combined 348 infections among over 8,000 inmates.

The Philippines has recorded nearly 9,000 coronavirus infections, and 603 deaths.

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