Some former Quezon City jail inmates recently went back to the prison facility—but not for any crimes committed.
They returned for their second dose of COVID-19 vaccines, administered under a joint program by San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) infrastructure arm, San Miguel Holdings Corp., the Quezon City chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The vaccination drive, which aims to extend protection against the deadly virus to hundreds of inmates and prevent a breakout of the disease at the densely-populated facility, was conducted by medical teams under the San Miguel Foundation’s “Ligtas Lahat” nationwide vaccination task force.
The company’s “Bakuna Bus” mobile vaccination unit was utilized to bring the medical teams and second doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines to the jail facility. The inmates received their first doses from the same program in August this year.
At least 11 individuals who had since been released from detention came back to avail of their second jabs.
Prior to the rollout of vaccination in the country, the BJMP had to postpone all visitation activities in jails. The withdrawal of the detainee’s visitation rights was enforced as an added precaution to keep the virus outside their already-overburdened facilities.
This means that detainees have been unable to see their loved ones throughout the periodic lockdowns since 2020.
SMC president Ramon S. Ang said: “Even as the number of cases have gone down significantly, continuous vaccination is still the most critical component of a sustained recovery for our country. And this means we cannot leave anyone behind, especially those in our marginalized sectors, and even those in our prison populations.”
“I’m glad that even the inmates themselves appreciate the importance of getting vaccinated, so much so that even those that had already been released, came back to get their second shot. We’re grateful that the government, through BJMP, as well as organizations such as the IBP, are there to look after the welfare of inmates, and organize support for their vaccination,” he added.
Ang reiterated that inmates also have families that long to visit them safely, and expressed hope that visitation privileges can be returned soon, once vaccination goals are achieved, so as to help maintain the well-being of detainees inside prison facilities.
For his part, Mike Atante, IBP-Quezon City president and governor for the Greater Manila Region, said: “We are all aware of the difficult conditions our persons deprived of liberty or PDLs, endure everyday, from crowded jails to lack of adequate access to proper legal services. We at the IBP are committed to helping change that.”
“We are especially grateful to Mr. Ramon S. Ang and the San Miguel Group for this vaccination program for the Quezon City Jail. By doing this, SMC and the QC LGU through Mayor Joy Belmonte not only provided life-saving vaccines to our PDLs but also gave them hope for a better tomorrow,” he added.
Meanwhile, the QC Jail leadership made sure that the vaccination events were well-organized and orderly. Jail officers were present throughout the activity to assist the beneficiaries for both doses.
The vaccination drive was conducted at two common areas inside the facility: the prison chapel and courtyard. The two groups of inmates were simultaneously vaccinated by the San Miguel Foundation’s team of doctors, nurses with support from volunteers.
Meanwhile, personal information of those who participated in the vaccination drive was encoded by IBP-QC personnel and immediately transmitted to the Quezon City Health Office for consolidation with the National Vaccination Drive.
This ensured that the inmates’ vaccination data were duly-registered and accessible through the National Vaccine registry. Apart from providing vaccines, San Miguel Holdings Corp. also distributed assorted Kambal Pandesal breads and sachets of San Mig Coffee to participating inmates and inmate-volunteers who helped organize the event.