WATCH | 2 of over 1,200 diarrhea-stricken inmates die in Bilibid

June 1, 2017 - 10:04 AM
Inmates at the New Bilibid Prison look out of their cell. (Reuters file)

MANILA, Philippines – Even without the imposition of capital punishment, the stench of death continues to loom over the country’s congested jails.

On Thursday, Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said two of the 1,212 prisoners suffering from diarrhea died at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, the country’s main insular penitentiary that houses more than 22,000 inmates but was only designed to accommodate 8,460 prisoners and thus has a congestion rate of 160 percent.

Aguirre said the fatalities — 62-year-old Virgilio Sabado and 67-year-old Sabat Lastimoso — were both suffering from diabetes.

Dr. Ma. Lourdes Razon, NBP Hospital officer-in-charge, said it was possible that the two elderly inmates’ condition was worsened by diarrhea that caused dehydration and hypovolemic shock, which results from the loss of more than 20 percent or one-fifth of the body’s blood or fluid supply.

Posible pong na-aggravate o nakadagdag ang diarrhea sa pagkakaroon ng diabetic coma,” said Razon,

Was foul play involved? Aguirre said authorities were still investigating the matter and “if there are persons or parties responsible for this, then they should be held accountable.”

The DOJ chief said having over a thousand Bilibid inmates with diarrhea with 81 of them confined at the NBP hospital “is no laughing matter.”

“It presents a serious concern which should be immediately addressed,” added Aguirre, who went to Bilibid on Thursday to check on the condition of the inmates.

“We are coordinating with the the Department of Health (DOH), with the full support of Health Secretary Ubial, to determine the etiology of this outbreak,” the DOJ chief said.

The DOJ turned over to Bureau of Corrections Director General Benjamin De Los Santos around 2,000 bottles of energy drink and 4,000 pieces of saba or triploid hybrid banana to alleviate the condition of the stricken inmates, according to Aguirre.

Also, the DOH gave the inmates 1,008 containers of intravenous fluid and 50,000 pieces of water purification tablets.

“We wish to re-assure the public, particularly the families of the inmates who are down with diarrhea that we are addressing the problem. The health and the welfare of our inmates, under the present circumstances, are paramount,” the DOJ secretary said.