Baguio PDLs mandated to undergo COVID-19 swab test

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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, approved on first reading a proposed ordinance mandating persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to undergo the required Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test before commitment or release from the Baguio City Jail male and female dorms.

Under the proposed ordinance, the swab testing for PDLs shall be mandatory prior to commitment or release from the female and male dorms of the Baguio city Jail in compliance to the existing health and safety protocols that had been crafted by the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases.

Further, the RT-PCR test kits to be used in the swab test of PDLs who are committed or released shall be provided by the Department of Health and the local government.

The ordinance stated that following the issuance of a commitment order by  the proper court for the commitment of a PDL into the facility of the Baguio City Jail male or female dorms, the PDL must undergo a mandatory COVID-19 swab test to be conducted by the trained nurse of the facility or the Department of Health which is in addition to the existing medical examination requirement imposed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and that schedule of the test shall be agreed upon by the jail officers and the committing law enforcement officer.

While the PDL is waiting for her or his swab test result, the ordinance stipulated that he or she must be temporarily detained at the designated detention facility provided by the committing law enforcement agency.

In case the PDL will test positive for COVID-19, the ordinance claimed that he or she shall be transferred to the designated quarantine and isolation facility of the city by the committing law enforcement agency for isolation and treatment.

When the PDL will be cleared from the deadly virus based on the results issued by the concerned health authorities, he or she will be subsequently committed and enter the designated detention cell together with PDLs who are COVID-19 free.

On the other hand, prior to the release of a PDL, he or she must undergo a mandatory swab test to be conducted by concerned health authorities.

In case the PDL will test positive of the virus, he or she will be transferred in the designated barangay isolation center of the barangay where she or he resides as indicated in the official records for isolation and treatment.

If she or he will test negative of the virus, the concerned PDL can be immediately released to the community with prior notice to the punong barangay where he or she resides.

The ordinance tasked the Baguio City Jail female and female dorms, in coordination with the committing law enforcement agency and Department of Health, and their respective punong barangays in the city where the PDL resides, to enforce with strict adherence to the aforesaid guidelines.

The ordinance tasked the City Public Information Office under the City Mayor’s Office and the Public Information Officer of the city council shall ensure the widest information dissemination to ensure that the public will be fully aware of the salient provisions of the proposed measure.  By Dexter A. See