A GROUP representing the families of political prisoners has asked the government to include about 215,000 inmates in the country’s crowded jails among the most vulnerable people who should get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“It has been almost a year since COVID-19 hit the country, yet there are still no official pronouncements that consider prisoners as part of the most at-risk populations who need to get the vaccine first,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said in an open letter to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on Tuesday.

“We strongly ask that all persons deprived of liberty, including all political prisoners, be incorporated in the government’s mass vaccination program for COVID-19,” she added.

Ms. Lim, citing United Nations rules on the treatment of prisoners, said the state is responsible for their healthcare.

“Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of healthcare that are available in the community, and should have access to necessary healthcare services free of charge without discrimination on the grounds of their legal status,” she added.

Among those prioritized by the government for coronavirus vaccines are health workers, senior citizens, people with comorbidities, police and military, people in other essential sectors, indigent people and migrant Filipinos. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago