Statement of the Commission on Human Rights expressing deep concern over the reported cases of suspected TB symptoms among PDLs in Pasay City Jail


The Commission on Human Rights expresses deep concern over the reported case of suspected tuberculosis (TB) symptoms seen among persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at Pasay City Jail.

According to a report, over 400 PDLs at the Pasay City Jail developed TB-like symptoms based on their X-ray results, which were not yet conclusive, and are now being isolated for conclusive testing.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) revealed that the Philippines has the world’s eleventh-largest prison population. Between 2015 and 2021, the number of people detained in the corrections system increased by nearly 75%, from 94,691 to 165,528.

TB is a highly contagious disease that poses a serious health risk, particularly in overcrowded and poorly ventilated environments such as prisons. The high number of suspected TB cases among PDLs at Pasay City Jail highlights a critical public health issue that necessitates immediate and comprehensive action. The potential for TB to spread both within the prison population and to the broader community underscores the urgency of addressing this outbreak effectively. Given the gravity of the situation, we urge the Pasay City Jail administration, the Bureau of Correction (BuCor), and other relevant agencies to take cognisance of the matter.

We reiterate Rule 1 of the Nelson Mandela Rules, also known as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which states that “all prisoners shall be treated with respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings.” Rule 1 also emphasizes the need to ensure the safety and security of prisoners, staff, service providers, and visitors at all times. Further, this rule requires that PDLs should have access to the same level of medical care and treatment as the general population, including preventive measures and health screenings.

To prevent similar health problems in jails, the Commission hopes that the BuCor will implement routine and comprehensive medical screenings for all PDLs upon entry and periodically during their incarceration to detect TB and other infectious diseases early. Access to accurate and rapid diagnostic tools to confirm infectious diseases promptly must also be ensured.

In the larger view, CHR, in fulfillment of our advisory mandate under the Constitution, also continues to urge the government to pass into law the creation of the country’s National Preventive Mechanism (NPM). The NPM is envisioned to carry out the important role of preventing torture, initiating reforms, and upholding domestic and international standards relating to PDLs, jails, and places of detention.

The Commission remains steadfast in its mandate of protecting the rights of all individuals, including those who are in conflict with the law. We believe that genuine reparation and rehabilitation can only be attained by upholding justice, fairness, and the inherent human dignity of PDLs.

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