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Davao Oriental governor seeks mandatory testing of inmates

Davao Oriental has ordered the mandatory testing of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) for the “risk based testing” of all individuals in penal institutions as part of its fight against COVID-19.

Provincial Governor Nelson Dayanghirang signed Executive No. 27, an order prescribing safety protocols and guidelines for penal institutions, reformation centers, and orphanages in the province.

“[T]here is a need to issue pertinent guidelines and impose stricter measures to arrest the spread of COVID-19, specifically on areas with a higher risk of transmission such as but not limited to penal institutions, reformation centers, and orphanages here in the province as also provided in previous issuance on the risk-based testing policy of the province,” Dayanghirang cited in the three-page executive order.

Section 1 of the EO mandates the conduct of risk-based testing “for all individuals in enclosed settings of the province.”

“Following previous issuances on risk-based testing, five present of the total population of an enclosed setting (facility) shall be tested,” the order said.

The order also dictates that this measure must give priority to those who belong to the vulnerable sector with due consideration to their age, comorbidities, and presence of symptoms.

On May 6, Dayanghirang also issued Executive Order No. 20, which institutionalized the conduct of risk-based testing for COVID-19 across all vulnerable groups and at-risk population in the province.

The testing was primarily intended to test only COVID-19 suspects, individuals of 60 years old and above who had travel/exposure history (to COVID-19), high-risk pregnant women, and those with comorbidities; skeleton workforce employees, healthcare frontliners; and those who have availed of the province’s Oplan Sundo program.

Executive Order No. 27 also states the mandatory COVID-19 testing for PDLs “prior to being committed to penal institutions, and likewise, prior to being release from the facility.

“Following the issuance of a commitment order by the proper court for the commitment of a PDL into the jail, the PDL must undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing to be conducted by the City/Municipal Health Department, in addition to the medical examination requirement,” Section 3 of the EO said.

Confirmed cases will be placed at a designated quarantine facility inside the jail for isolation and treatment. Meanwhile, those PDLs who are about to be released will also undergo testing, and they would be placed in the designated barangay isolation unit of the barangay.

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