Test for virus inmates to be freed -- solon

LOW-RISK and vulnerable detainees should be tested for coronavirus diseaseS (COVID-19) before they are released.

This is the appeal of Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo to the Supreme Court and Department of Justice.

She said the SC and the DOJ could request the Department of Health to conduct the test.

“The government should determine if the prisoners to be released are coronavirus carriers or not. If they are and are sent home, they can spread the virus to their families and the community,” Castelo said.

The neophyte solon said that if the detainees are carriers, they should be immediately isolated and treated.

Contact tracing should also be done to identify persons the detainees have interacted with so they could be quarantined, she also said.

Castelo made the appeal in the wake of reports that the SC is allowing the release of certain offenders, including those whose period of detention is equal to or has exceeded the prison term they would serve if they were convicted.

The high court took the move apparently in response to appeals for it and the DOJ to free low-risk and vulnerable persons deprived of liberty to decongest jails and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in these detention facilities.

Castelo said she is supporting the recommendation of the House Committee on Justice to give temporary freedom to low-risk and vulnerable prisoners provided measures are taken so they won’t spread the virus if they have it.

“They should be monitored for any manifestation of the disease so they can be promptly quarantined,” Castelo suggested.