MANILA, Oct 25 (Mabuhay) –About three to five inmates die every day in the Bureau of Corrections’ prisons and penal farms nationwide, BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said Monday.

(MNS photo)

There are nearly 49,000 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) in prison facilities in the country.

Chaclag said most of the inmates died of natural causes.

“‘Yung daily na namamatay dito, we have an average of 3 to 4, sometimes 5 PDLs every day. Meron tayong 49,000 BuCor-wide PDLs. 49,000 is even bigger than some municipalities. Meron talaga every day namamatay,” Chaclag told reporters in a press briefing at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

“Old age, sickness. Mostly naman nanggagaling sa hospital, hospital records,” he added.

The BuCor official said even before the COVID-19 pandemic, at least 3 PDLs died in BuCor facilities each day.

“I don’t think there’s a very big spike in the difference. Talagang ganun ang average. Even before the pandemic, ganun talaga iyon,” he said

Chaclag said that one of the problems they are facing is the large number of unclaimed cadavers in accredited funeral parlors.

He said cadavers are temporarily stored at accredited funeral parlors for a maximum of 5 months. If still unclaimed by the PDLs’ family members, the cadavers are buried at the NBP Cemetery.

“We reach out to the families and barangay. Pag wala talaga, hindi na natin kayang patagalin sa funeral parlor kasi mag-iincur ng maraming cost. Ang ginagawa natin temporarily, we bury them sa NBP Cemetery,” Chaclag said.

He added, “Sadly, ang iba hindi na naki-claim, kinalimutan na po. Minsan inaabot pa ng 6 months. May cases naman na after 6 to 8 months, pumupunta (ang pamilya), dinadala naman natin, binubuksan natin saan sila inilibing.”

According to Chaclag, 50 deceased PDLs whose cadavers were unclaimed were buried at the NBP Cemetery in June; another 50 in July; 46 in August; and 44 in September.

On Friday, Justice Secretary Boying Remulla ordered the suspension of BuCor chief Gerald Bantag to give way to a fair and impartial investigation on the death of Jun Villamor, who was identified by self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial as the middleman in the killing of journalist Percival Mabasa, more known as Percy Lapid.

Based on the BuCor health service’s initial inspection of Villamor’s body, there were no signs of physical external injuries “which probably indicate a natural cause of death or no signs of foul play.” (MNS)