Tools ‹ PRISONWATCH — WordPress

Tools ‹ PRISONWATCH — WordPress.

WHEN A CAREER WOMAN IS IMPRISONED

“No one can make you feel inferior

without your consent.”

—-Eleanor Roosevelt

Nanay Delada is one among the hundreds of female prisoners at the correctional facility for women in Mindanao. And she is also one among a handful of senior citizens serving time. What sets her apart from the rest of the population is her gait. She could barely walk and lift herself. She suffered two cerebrovascular disorders or stroke affecting the left side of her body, her speech slurred and even her eyesight literally damaged. She moves around propped up by her indulging fellow inmates and almost dragged because of her numbed and springy leg movements. She was convicted of parricide, almost classified as heinous since it’s a crime imputed for killing a member of one’s family. The offense carries a penalty of 15 years. She was 63 when her sentence was promulgated and if she would serve the full term, she would be released at the age of 78, assuming that her health condition would restore to her former vigor.

It is not much of a storied episode in prison that her life moved sparingly that makes it something for the books. It is just an ordinary chapter exactly lifted from any dramatic teleserye reflecting a plot which is common and yet too fictional to portray. Before Nanay Delada was incarcerated, she was a serious worker in Cagayan de Oro City, given a rank somewhat managerial as secretary to the top honcho of a successful private firm. She was the typical career woman in the modern sense. Her work and commitment to the mission of her company takes precedence over all matters—including that of her family. She must therefore dedicate herself on the job since this is needed in the maintenance of their homely affairs. After all, she has got a big brood to sustain—a fledging husband and 7 children. She must be a Vilma Santos, a star for all season to her family, not to mention the fact that she must also play the same role in her organization to uphold her sensitive position.

She must balance her schedule, but this is easier said than done. The reality is that her prime time is devoted to the company and what is left, and this for sure has nothing qualitative to offer, is for her family to consider. As she ascends the ladder of the organization, she descends on the personal estimation of her family. She would one day hear that two of her children have decided to move out and transfer to another residence in another city. Another followed and the rest went through similar path, most were able to leave the country and found job abroad without her blessings. The youngest would remain and the husband would have nothing to depend on except in the company of his peers. One pressure after another led to a series of misunderstanding in the family. She was no longer getting younger and the higher she rises in the company, the stress and anxieties she gets when at home. It would be repeated on days on end. It’s a cycle of squabbling, a serial on falling out and instantly a fuse on daily disagreement. Until she snapped.

She was not feeling well that day and must have to go home. As she alighted from a public transport adjacent her house, she noticed the gates splayed wide open, and on the inner side, several men lumped in her favorite furniture on a drinking spree. Everything was tupsy turvy. To top it all, she was aghast to see her husband, simply out of tune, singing and swinging while the youngest son accompanying him on guitar. The whole neighborhood was nonplussed and quite agitated because of the noise.

There was merriment all right, a contrast to her bad hair day. She was feeling embarrassed by this display of irresponsibility. She felt her blood pressure shot up, as she continuously hear the loud clattering and laughter. Her demeanor was slowly showing a form of disgust, her eyes gazing at her husband and then to those splayed around. She was quiet though but her facial expression says it all. She was a picture of objection. She showed it by clipping her lips and the contour of her eyebrows. She could not hold herself but control she did. She went straight inside the house, until she heard rushing footsteps behind her. She was boxed at the back for no reason at all. She could not turn around to check because there was another blow which rendered her rolling unto the muddied flooring. She went dizzy. She finally got hold of something metallic, a bolo strewn still embedded in left over of grilled chicken which was served as condiment for wine. She used it as support to lift herself up. She could not understand the shouting and the pandemonium. She could not make do with all the fuzz and the violence. Her being peeved was instantly replaced by shock. Everything turned hazy until she defensively swayed the cane and unluckily found its bladed side on the neck of the attacker, who it turns out to be her husband. He was disrespected and felt humiliated with her sudden appearance and serious entry. For a drunken fellow that means defiance. He leapt to confront the wife in a violent manner and things got messy. The gaiety of the day turned into horror. The redness of the occasion became purple and bloody. The neighborhood was transformed into a site of dreadfulness, the house changed into a theater of terror.

A police car, which was earlier tipped as a consequence of the blaring occasion, finally arrived. The neighborhood was up in arms, anticipating that the drinking spree might turn violent as it was previously. It indeed came true. The police came instantly as if on cue and there it was in front of them, a bloodied man splayed on the floor, a youthful lad hugging the victim, crying and cursing, and over in the further side near the sink, an old lady, dirt all over, and bolo still on her hand. A rookie police officer moved swiftly and inquired from the lady where the culprit was and if she still could identify the person. There was silence and she could feel her knees giving in. There was no more energy for her that day. It was a nightmare she could not shake off. She could feel her weight and eyesight dimming. Until she heard a wild scream. It was her son’s voice wailing. A police cordon was made while a group of by-standers wrapped the bloodied man onto a makeshift stretcher for emergency evacuation.

The police milled around the lad as the youth unabashedly howled and pointed at his mother as the assailant. The shrieking voice and widened eyes, indicating distance from her mother, indicating contempt at her absence in the house, indicating that she was bereft of concern for her loved ones, assailing the woman as the very person who whipped the old man. Like cornering a newly caught prey, the police immediately drew their firearms, aimed it at the woman, instructing her to throw the weapon and to raise both her hands. She could not fathom what was happening that day, until she came to realize, while inside the precinct that indeed she was the one who killed her husband. She was booked and kept in jail during the duration of the trial.

It took only a few dates for the hearing. Much as she wanted to stand and defend herself, the sight of her son as the very complainant, the very witness positively identifying her as the culprit, melted her resolve to seek the fairer side of justice. She pleaded and admitted although deep in her heart, it was only an accident. Although deep in her heart, the merriment she saw, a depressive sight to behold was already an accident waiting to happen. And deeper in her heart, she could not even believe that she would even figure out as a major player in said accident. But the career woman in her, the almost iron hearted, a cold calculating lady as she is, inured in pressures and tension, still would accept with grace her appointment with destiny, notwithstanding the fact that it was not what she bargained for.

She dedicated her youth to support her family. Ignored the pleasure of staying and playing with her kids at home. Painful as it were outside her home and family, she persevered to give them everything they need. She must work for them even if her heart is denied of their presence. Worst, her brood would never know her up close. The distance of one’s career with that of family is indeed a world apart. It is the distance between make and break. A distance so distraught as to even spell the difference between innocence and guilt.

Nanay Delada was finally convicted and as a result, her health would subsequently disintegrate. Age and sorrow combined to extirpate whatever remains in her poise and bearing as a former career woman. As she was about to start her day as a convict, her blood pressure rose and she collapsed for exhaustion. She suffered a massive stroke but was immediately attended to. As she was about to be shipped to the penitentiary, the Calvary or mountain of skull for offenders, she heard that her children finally met and were convinced that indeed she merits no mercy at all from them. Hearing this, she again suffered her second stroke. She woke up eventually from such a heart ache, her body already a mere shadow of her former plump and elegance. She knew that she would serve time for more than a decade, spending her senile years in prison, and like a career person, all by herself, but this time, without even the concern of the very people she committed herself to work and sacrifice for.

By:

P/Supt IV Venancio J. Tesoro

July 30, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When a Career Woman is Imprisoned

WHEN A CAREER WOMAN IS IMPRISONED
“No one can make you feel inferior
without your consent.”
—-Eleanor Roosevelt

Nanay Delada is one among the hundreds of female prisoners at the correctional facility for women in Mindanao. And she is also one among a handful of senior citizens serving time. What sets her apart from the rest of the population is her gait. She could barely walk and lift herself. She suffered two cerebrovascular disorders or stroke affecting the left side of her body, her speech slurred and even her eyesight literally damaged. She moves around propped up by her indulging fellow inmates and almost dragged because of her numbed and springy leg movements. She was convicted of parricide, almost classified as heinous since it’s a crime imputed for killing a member of one’s family. The offense carries a penalty of 15 years. She was 63 when her sentence was promulgated and if she would serve the full term, she would be released at the age of 78, assuming that her health condition would restore to her former vigor.

It is not much of a storied episode in prison that her life moved sparingly that makes it something for the books. It is just an ordinary chapter exactly lifted from any dramatic teleserye reflecting a plot which is common and yet too fictional to portray. Before Nanay Delada was incarcerated, she was a serious worker in Cagayan de Oro City, given a rank somewhat managerial as secretary to the top honcho of a successful private firm. She was the typical career woman in the modern sense. Her work and commitment to the mission of her company takes precedence over all matters—including that of her family. She must therefore dedicate herself on the job since this is needed in the maintenance of their homely affairs. After all, she has got a big brood to sustain—a fledging husband and 7 children. She must be a Vilma Santos, a star for all season to her family, not to mention the fact that she must also play the same role in her organization to uphold her sensitive position.

She must balance her schedule, but this is easier said than done. The reality is that her prime time is devoted to the company and what is left, and this for sure has nothing qualitative to offer, is for her family to consider. As she ascends the ladder of the organization, she descends on the personal estimation of her family. She would one day hear that two of her children have decided to move out and transfer to another residence in another city. Another followed and the rest went through similar path, most were able to leave the country and found job abroad without her blessings. The youngest would remain and the husband would have nothing to depend on except in the company of his peers. One pressure after another led to a series of misunderstanding in the family. She was no longer getting younger and the higher she rises in the company, the stress and anxieties she gets when at home. It would be repeated on days on end. It’s a cycle of squabbling, a serial on falling out and instantly a fuse on daily disagreement. Until she snapped.

She was not feeling well that day and must have to go home. As she alighted from a public transport adjacent her house, she noticed the gates splayed wide open, and on the inner side, several men lumped in her favorite furniture on a drinking spree. Everything was tupsy turvy. To top it all, she was aghast to see her husband, simply out of tune, singing and swinging while the youngest son accompanying him on guitar. The whole neighborhood was nonplussed and quite agitated because of the noise.

There was merriment all right, a contrast to her bad hair day. She was feeling embarrassed by this display of irresponsibility. She felt her blood pressure shot up, as she continuously hear the loud clattering and laughter. Her demeanor was slowly showing a form of disgust, her eyes gazing at her husband and then to those splayed around. She was quiet though but her facial expression says it all. She was a picture of objection. She showed it by clipping her lips and the contour of her eyebrows. She could not hold herself but control she did. She went straight inside the house, until she heard rushing footsteps behind her. She was boxed at the back for no reason at all. She could not turn around to check because there was another blow which rendered her rolling unto the muddied flooring. She went dizzy. She finally got hold of something metallic, a bolo strewn still embedded in left over of grilled chicken which was served as condiment for wine. She used it as support to lift herself up. She could not understand the shouting and the pandemonium. She could not make do with all the fuzz and the violence. Her being peeved was instantly replaced by shock. Everything turned hazy until she defensively swayed the cane and unluckily found its bladed side on the neck of the attacker, who it turns out to be her husband. He was disrespected and felt humiliated with her sudden appearance and serious entry. For a drunken fellow that means defiance. He leapt to confront the wife in a violent manner and things got messy. The gaiety of the day turned into horror. The redness of the occasion became purple and bloody. The neighborhood was transformed into a site of dreadfulness, the house changed into a theater of terror.

A police car, which was earlier tipped as a consequence of the blaring occasion, finally arrived. The neighborhood was up in arms, anticipating that the drinking spree might turn violent as it was previously. It indeed came true. The police came instantly as if on cue and there it was in front of them, a bloodied man splayed on the floor, a youthful lad hugging the victim, crying and cursing, and over in the further side near the sink, an old lady, dirt all over, and bolo still on her hand. A rookie police officer moved swiftly and inquired from the lady where the culprit was and if she still could identify the person. There was silence and she could feel her knees giving in. There was no more energy for her that day. It was a nightmare she could not shake off. She could feel her weight and eyesight dimming. Until she heard a wild scream. It was her son’s voice wailing. A police cordon was made while a group of by-standers wrapped the bloodied man onto a makeshift stretcher for emergency evacuation.

The police milled around the lad as the youth unabashedly howled and pointed at his mother as the assailant. The shrieking voice and widened eyes, indicating distance from her mother, indicating contempt at her absence in the house, indicating that she was bereft of concern for her loved ones, assailing the woman as the very person who whipped the old man. Like cornering a newly caught prey, the police immediately drew their firearms, aimed it at the woman, instructing her to throw the weapon and to raise both her hands. She could not fathom what was happening that day, until she came to realize, while inside the precinct that indeed she was the one who killed her husband. She was booked and kept in jail during the duration of the trial.

It took only a few dates for the hearing. Much as she wanted to stand and defend herself, the sight of her son as the very complainant, the very witness positively identifying her as the culprit, melted her resolve to seek the fairer side of justice. She pleaded and admitted although deep in her heart, it was only an accident. Although deep in her heart, the merriment she saw, a depressive sight to behold was already an accident waiting to happen. And deeper in her heart, she could not even believe that she would even figure out as a major player in said accident. But the career woman in her, the almost iron hearted, a cold calculating lady as she is, inured in pressures and tension, still would accept with grace her appointment with destiny, notwithstanding the fact that it was not what she bargained for.

She dedicated her youth to support her family. Ignored the pleasure of staying and playing with her kids at home. Painful as it were outside her home and family, she persevered to give them everything they need. She must work for them even if her heart is denied of their presence. Worst, her brood would never know her up close. The distance of one’s career with that of family is indeed a world apart. It is the distance between make and break. A distance so distraught as to even spell the difference between innocence and guilt.

Nanay Delada was finally convicted and as a result, her health would subsequently disintegrate. Age and sorrow combined to extirpate whatever remains in her poise and bearing as a former career woman. As she was about to start her day as a convict, her blood pressure rose and she collapsed for exhaustion. She suffered a massive stroke but was immediately attended to. As she was about to be shipped to the penitentiary, the Calvary or mountain of skull for offenders, she heard that her children finally met and were convinced that indeed she merits no mercy at all from them. Hearing this, she again suffered her second stroke. She woke up eventually from such a heart ache, her body already a mere shadow of her former plump and elegance. She knew that she would serve time for more than a decade, spending her senile years in prison, and like a career person, all by herself, but this time, without even the concern of the very people she committed herself to work and sacrifice for.

By:

P/Supt IV Venancio J. Tesoro
July 30, 2010

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Davao Penal Colony: History and Prospects

DAVAO PENAL COLONY
A View of Prison Rehab from the Prism of Corporate Farming and other concerns

Davao Penal Colony was established in 1931 and has since been the hub of correctional upheaval and violent struggles to sustain the incarcerated humanity for decades to follow. It was a period of turmoil. It was a remote jungle carved from the rain forest north of undivided Davao Province, eastern side of Mindanao. It was founded during the Commonwealth era, administered by General Paulino Santos, its first Penal Superintendent, on whose respectable name a province southern most of Mindanao would be named in his stead, Gensan. Stability came into a reality subsequently only after a viable prison training and work program had been determined.

The penal colony had an aggregate land size of 29,000 hectares composed mainly of undulating forest cover, highly vegetated by hard wood and almost a complete jungle. To reach the place circa in the early 30s, one must navigate the distance through boat, by foot and bamboo sledges. Prison facilities were patches of thatched dormitories and makeshift houses and the only sign that it was an operating institution was the massive lumber-built security offices around the fledging campsite. At that time, there were only a hundred prisoners housed in the camp, mostly farmers and incorrigibles from Manila Old Bilibid.

To date, the prison reservation is about 8,000 hectares and the prison camp houses around 6,700 male prisoners and 200 female prisoners. Most of the area formerly farmed by prisoners and became worthy as farm sites were distributed through a series of Presidential Proclamations—from President Quezon, President Magsaysay and President Garcia. What were left for the penal colony administration to explore were mostly swampy and muddy patches. What was left was pure estuary where only a patch of land appears every kilometer for whatever plants may be introduced, mostly cash crops. The phenomenal rainfall in this part of the area of Davao even makes the entire area submissive to regular flooding and mudflow. No farmer or farming group from nearby proclaimed farm areas would even dare get through. The impression then was that the area would be a useless portion and better undeveloped because of the murky and treacherous terrain.

The prison administration of Davao Penal Colony however would not be disheartened by the challenge of making that which was left as idle. They built a series of irrigated plots until a portion became viable for abaca plantation. This became the network of productive pursuits sustained slowly by prison colonists but hastened through the assistance of the private sector engaging their products for purposes of decortications for hemp production. This was the first joint venture with a pioneering and budding private agency, the Tagum Agricultural Development Company or Tadeco. This institutional relationship would continue up to the early 60s until synthetic cord or nylon pushed abaca hemp away in the market. The seed of the Joint Venture from thereon would sustain the introduction of banana as a staple farm project. Tadeco would pursue what non-government organization would decline to pursue, the training of prisoners on farm education and other agricultural planting techniques. Thereupon, the venture on farming would bear an agreement which later would be formalized into a Joint Venture Agreement with the prison agency and Tadeco. The Agreement would also be concurred by the Department of Justice.

Prison land would be developed through the technology and application of mechanized approaches of farming with prisoners being taught hand-in-hand on courses in farm education. Prison administration’s role would be enhanced with the formal entrance of corporate reinforcement by way of technical assistance.

Years later, the partnership would grow into a government-private sector collaboration showcasing a world class farming community with production output and quality produce competing with the best in global benchmarked fruit commerce and marketing. The revenues from the production effort would also benefit the premiere correctional institution of the country.

It has been a successful venture which would become a template for similar ventures contemplated by the correctional system to be replicated in its regional establishments around the country. The successful program likewise attracted not only rave reviews but land speculators as well.

As of last count, there are 15 claimants and petitioners (although there are six which are very active and sustained by supporters from underground sources) seeking to work for the land distribution of Davao prison reservation, the site of the Joint Venture Program. The area has been so maintained and properly cultivated that it has literally become a magnet also for scam artists using as invitation the land distribution crusade and recruit farmers from as far as Cotabato and Maguindanao to petition the area for their occupancy. The list seems to expand as more recruits are lured into the promise of glib and smooth operators. They include the following:

I – DASAI / SSLAI – ELSA GUTIERREZ

DASAI is composed of the Maguad (SSLAI claiming 500 hectares) and Mansenido (Lope Mansenido group claiming 2, 464 hectares) families and another clan who were occupants of DAPECOL when it was still one large piece of wilderness or forest.
With the establishment of the DAPECOL reservation as a penal farm for the South, they were ejected from their lots but were relocated to and given some portion of the DAPECOL reservations itself.
DASAI’s petition to DAR had been an on-and-off appeal which crops up with every change in Administration.
DASAI / SSLAI, thru Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano pushed House Resolution No. 1033, “Directing The Committee On Agrarian Reform To Conduct An Investigation On The Policy Wisdom Of The Renewal Of The Contract Between The Department Of Justice/Bureau Of Corrections And The Tagum Development Corporation In As Much As It Deprives Farmers And Farm Workers Within Davao Penal Colony Of Their Right To Land Contrary To The Constitutionally Mandated Public Policy Of Implementing An Agrarian Reform Driven By Land Distribution.”

II – STO. TOMAS BAGONG-BUHAY ASSOCIATION, INC (STBBAI) – PABLO DEUNA

PETITION: A petition for the CARP coverage of the 203-hectare portion of certain lands, which are purportedly subject of a Deed of Transfer executed by the Bureau of Corrections in favor of the Department of Agrarian Reform (now Department of Land Reform)

III – Lower Bobongon CAR Beneficiaries Multi-purpose Cooperative (LBCBMC) – PACIFICO BALINTACULO

PETITION: Petitioned the Office of the President to intervene for the Execution of a Deed of Transfer in favor of DAR over the remaining 436.3859 hectares of land located at Bobongon, Sto. Tomas.

IV – Lupang Pangako – DAMIAN DOMINGO / MERLYN RAMIREZ

A certain Merlyn Domingo-Ramirez claimed to be the heir of a certain Damian Domingo. Allegedly, late Damian Domingo developed what is now known as Lot 4710, CAD 276 (portion). Ramirez claimed for 1, 675.0025 hectares which may probably fall within Proclamation No. 341 dated September 3, 1956. According to Ramirez, the property was mistakenly included in the estate of BUCOR/DPPF and leased to TADECO. Ramirez even sought the assistance of late Datu Ibrahim “Toto” Pendatun Paglas III.

THE SCAM:

 Merlyn Ramirez-Domingo went to Land Registration Authority and secured a copy of the Certificate of Title No. (0-3984) 0-1739 issued in the name of DAMIAN DOMINGO. This was later declared by the same office as spurious after verification with the vault keeper and the record officer.
 Accordingly, the spurious document was feloniously inserted in the vault of the Registry of Deeds.
 Atty. John Paul Devilleres, Registry of Deeds III, Tagum City, issued a memorandum addressed to PARO Nicasio Lemente nullifying the certified true copy issued to Merlyn Ramirez-Domingo.
 He further informed PARO that the real owner of said title is a certain Antonio Amoguis, and that actual location of the property is in Asuncion, Davao del Norte and contains an area of 64,782 square meters, more or less.

V – Solidarity of Landless Workers in Davao (SOLAWORD) – Samuel Y. Cardenio

 SOLAWORD members of more or less 3,000 are active employees of TADECO who are actual tillers of the petitioned land. They are actually and physically living within their petitioned area for 25 to 30 plus years.
 The creation of SOLAWORD was prompted by the emergence of group of petitioners of DAPECOL lands which posed threat to their employment and possession of the land that they are working on.
 From among the groups of petitioners, SOLAWORD is the only one which shows effort in cooperating with the management.

VI – DAPECOL Workers ARB Association Inc. (DAWARBAI) / UNORKA

 DAWARBAI has not filed any formal petition before any government offices.
 During the time when the core leaders were recruiting members to organize but failed to go further.
 The organization is under the umbrella of UNORKA.

Notwithstanding the threats and intimidation posed by speculators, prison authorities and their counterparts in Tadeco are undaunted. They would still continue to formulate plans that redound to the benefit of the prison community. Recent developments in the field prove encouraging and worthy as benchmark in corrective service as the Joint Venture program attempts to absorb released prisoners into the mainstream of regular corporate manpower. This in effect would usher in an advancement in criminal justice administration under the policy of after care program for released prisoners or simply put, post imprisonment welfare services. A pilot scheme which may prove as a program landmark not only in Philippine correctional administration but in Southeast Asia as well.

ooo0ooo

By: P/Supt IV Venancio J. Tesoro
July 3, 2010

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My Career Profile During Correctional Periods

1. GENERAL VICENTE R. RAVAL: He was the longest reigning director of prisons (corrections) in the correctional agency. It under his regime, in 1977, when I would be employed as Guidance Psychologist. A few years later, I would be promoted one level up and another, until I would be appointed Chief, Reception and Diagnostic Center. I would become one of the youngest Division Chief in National government. I was then 26 years old. (HIGH MARKS)
2. GENERAL VICENTE EDUARDO: He succeeded Director Raval and became one of corrections liberal administrators. He was formerly police chief of Baguio and earned his loyalty feathers by turning over the infamous Yamashita golden buddha to the mother of President Marcos. During his incumbency in the Bureau of Prisons, he allowed me to participate in JICA (Japan sponsored seminar). He stood by me when an anonymous complaint reached the Foreign affairs that I am disqualified to leave the country because of my association with communists. He personally assisted me until I reached and completed a course in Japan. (HIGH MARKS)
3. COL. EDMUNDO CEA: His administration is the shortest in terms of timeline and the most scandalous, as it was marred with a lot of shame and wrongdoing. To think that he assumed command at the height of Aquino administration was an ironical and tragic twist for corrections. I was ordered to leave RDC and transferred to a Siberian assignment at Leyte. I called for a general meeting at my office in RDC and tore up the memo. It was trouble in the agency. And I am in charge of a faction of mutinuous officers. After 4 months, Cea was unceromoniously booted out. (LOW MARKS)
4. GENERAL MELITON GOYENA: He was the only Director who assumed his post without fanfare. He never came with a retinue of aides. As a matter of fact, he drove himself up aqlone, asked the employees how to get to the office of the Director, met the staff and worked. His presence is guts and courage in capital letters. Amidst the scandal and torn loyalties, he guided corrections competently. I became Penal Superintendent IV, the highest post in the agency (next to presidential appointed posts) during his incumbency and also, the youngest superintendent in the bureaucracy. I was 33 years old. (HIGH MARKS)
5. MR. ERIBERTO B. MISA: He was ultra traditional and very conservative. I was relieved as NBP Superintendent and was given the post as chief, Planning and Technical Office, where I formed the first contingent of Prison SWAT. It was not a career building period but I got a firm support in sustaining my officers camaraderie during this period. (HIGH MARKS)
6. GENERAL VICENTE G. VINARAO: He was formerly a police consultant at the Office of the President. He came in fully prepared but with a lot of hangers on, mainly retired police officers, all hungry to take over posts traditionally reserved for the ranking officers. I was immediately eased out from the mainstream and transferred to Davao, then to Palawan, then to Zamboanga before I finally settled in the freezer of NBP. During this period, I accummulated 17 administrative cases and 2 criminal charges formulated by officers whom Gen VGV introduced in the organization, they eventually became members of the so called dirty tricks department.(LOW MARKS)
7. GENERAL PEDRO G. SISTOZA: I was restored to the post as NBP Superintendent and briefly assigned to Palawan. (Mayor Hagedorn appealed to DOJ to reassign me elsewhere but not in Palawan.) I was back in NBP and given the post of BuCor spokesman and Chief Executioner. He also designated me to head the bids and awards committee and gave instructions to be transparent in government transactions. I was also nominated to participate in a conference at Sydney, Australia. (HIGH MARKS)
8. COL RICARDO B. MACALA: He was DOJ Secretary Hernando Perez’s fair haired boy. And assumed post like Gen Vinarao—with retinues and hangers on also. I was head of Public Information Office briefly and was called to assume command and take over the beligerent leadership in Davao Penal Colony. For a year and a half, I was Dapecol chief and enjoying the perks of high office and involved in the academe. (HIGH MARKS)
(For a brief 3 month period, DOJ assigned DOJ Usec Ramon Liwag to sustain the break while awaiting for the appointment of the Director of Corrections replacing Director Macala.)
9. GENERAL DIONISIO SANTIAGO: I was never conscripted to assume command during the first few months of his administration and would relegate me in incosequential posts. He denied my request for re-assignment in Davao and instead assigned me in the freezer. After a few scandal that racked NBP, he directed me to assume command. While in NBP, I was able to restore order and continued with my policy of abolishing gangs in the matter of administering discipline and management of NBP prison community. (HIGH MARKS)
10. GENERAL VICENTE G. VINARAO: As soon as he assumed office, he signed the first special order abolishing the Public Information Office. As chief of PIO, I was virtually out of job. I merely coasted along but never given a sound post. I have no regular function, one day I am head of survey team in Tanay where NBP is proposed to be transferred, another day, as technical chair of CIW Mindanao, another occasion as Hearing Officer. Its only in the last month of his administration that I was sent to a sensitive mission—dealing with armed rebels —at Davao Penal Colony. After stabilizing the facility with so much risks, dangers and uncertainty, a prepared case was about to be issued to me, to justify my relief. It was never issued at all since an order from the President called for his replacement by another official. (LOW MARKS)
11. GENERAL RICARDO DAPAT: He assumed office with an air of bragadocio. He even recruited his friends (retired police officers) and took over positions usually reserved for the ranking in the agency, in complete disregard of morale, laterally. He managed the institution in a personalistic way reserving the process of decision making as if it is his household. He would even treat his officers as if they are his vassals. He was about to replace with his sychopant had it not for the unexpected trouble at the DOJ where he collided with the DOJ Secretary (Gonzalez) on the matter of handling the computation format adopted in evaluating Jalosjos’ prison term.(LOW MARKS)
12. GENERAL OSCAR C. CALDERON: He took over a scandalized correctional facility. The previous leadership was booted out for mishandling the case of Jalosjos who was summarily released without DOJ clearance. Director Calderon was a fresh air amidst conflicting management complexities. He did not rocked the facilities and reserved the positions in the rank and file strictly for the qualified. He supported all my programs and assisted me in my pioneering attempts to organize and renovate the correctional facility for women in Mindanao.(HIGH MARKS)

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The Anatomy of Gen. Goyena’s “fall” in the Prison Service

Edsa Revolution spelled a positive effect  in the prison service, although it came a year later.  The forgetable administration of the first Cory appointee, a certain Col Edmundo Cea, was replaced by an exceptional PC bright boy, Gen Meliton Goyena.  Cea’s administration had so much gaping holes and irreversible abuses principal of which was his penchant for violence and later in grossly twisting prison rules.  He even allowed the reclassification of those in death row into minimum security status, a category applied for prisoners about to be released in a year’s time.  The presence of maximum security prisoners outside the camp raised alarms.  Worst, these prisoners were brazen enough to extend their criminal activities in the free community.  Crimes were committed by these reclassified felons in such crowded areas like Luneta and other tourist spots in Metropolitan Manila.  It was his administration that also gave birth to the first prison staff association, as their activism was awakened by his disrespect to time honored prison rules.  His regime was to be terminated after 6 months.

Gen Meliton Goyena’s administration would usher in a period of fairness and competence.  But his strict disposition would not allow certain consideration.  That attribute would form into a monstrous tumor that would gnaw at his accomplishments and later on would swallow whole his integrity as the best prison director in the annals of the prison service.

The officious travail of Goyena administration began in an innocently issuance of an ordinary security order normally given by a prison superintendent but in that case by his office.  It has been said that the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa is one of the seven prison and penal farm in the country and ideally should be governed by a Superintendent.  Considering the fact that the Office of the Director is also in the same site as the Office of the Prison Superintendent, the latter’s role is eclipsed by the Director of Prison and subordinated accordingly.  The Superintendent would virtually act only as commander of guard and the Director acting also as Superintendent.  When this happern, it is the neck of the Director which is at stake on the chopping block.

Sometime in the late 80s, a notorious (as far as US embassy is concerned) but for most of those he has assisted, resourceful,  offender was admitted in the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa.  The front line facility for the reception of national prisoners is the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC)—where newly received prisoners are examined, subjected to a battery of tests, observed and eventually, classified.  After 60 days, the inmate is sent to serve time in a regular prison facility.  A convoy of seven brand new  coasters led by a limousine, and backed by several police cars and miltary truck with loads of police and soldiers arrived at the RDC grounds.  Top notch lawyer and book author Atty. Antonio Coronel came out of the lead vehicle and went straight up to see the Chief of the RDC facility.  He was closely followed by a slim youthful looking person, trimmed moustache and a healthy crop of straight hair.  The fellow was in hand cuff and accosted by a group of policemen  and a number of armed civilians were trailing closely.  The prisoner was Nonoy Bala, the so called legendary forger, the alleged virtual golden arm, the man behind several successful migration pursuits at a time when the country has banned its citizens from migration to foreign lands. Accordingly, Nonoy can whip up a document which can take anyone, anywhere in the world.  But the long arm of the law, well US law for that matter, caught up with him and he was charged and later convicted to serve time equivalent to one’s youthful period under maximum security category.  Nonoy Bala had countless of friends, mostly relatives of those he helped obtain passports and related requirements for a successful foreign residency.  One of them is Dr. Avelina Alcantara, retired Chief of the National Penitentiaries Hospital.  Dra. Alcantara is related to the Chief of the Prison Reception and Diagnostic Center, then Chief Ven Jo Tesoro.

Ideally, a prisoner cannot extend his stint at RDC for more than 60 days unless the chief of the division would retain the person under his custodial supervision.,  Tesoro, upon the request of his aunt, Dra. Alcantara, did just that.  Nonoy Bala was retained at the RDC facility.  But intrigues would play a bad game on Nonoy and would even  exert its malicious overture up to the office of the Director of Prisons, until one day, the latter would issue an order to the Chief, RDC for inmate Bala to be transferred to the feared maximum security compound of the penitentiary.  A specific order for a specific inmate.  Quite an exeptional turn of events because normally, the Director only supervises through issuances of command policies and orders to his officers but never to micro manage prison administration.  Then NBP Superintendent Totaan getting advise from one of his lieutenants, then security officer  Juanito Leopando, reported to the Director that inmate Bala had overstayed at RDC already and should have been transferred to the maximum wing.  The catch here was that once inmate Bala is transferred, his resources could be squeezed and it would be a lucrative period for the custodial officers in the area.

Inmate Bala was informed on the Director’s order and was warned that in the maximum security camp, he would literally be shaken down, frisked of his resources and bled for more.  That he should not heed every request if he wanted to prolong not only his sanity but also his hope of getting released someday.  Inmate Bala took the order of Director Goyena as a personal affront, a vendetta, a form of harassment.  Such would even merit vengeance from Bala’s end as the story would unfold later.

Bracing for more pressures, inmate Bala sent his sympathizers to pawn everything he owned so that he could arm himself with so much resources.  He would try to buy off gangs and if need be anyone who can loyally play for him whatever he wants.  He wanted to attack Director Goyena from behind, in the same fashion, he experienced.  He would pay handsomely anyone who would risk charging the Director and there were lots of volunteers.  Complaints were flowing, cascading from one sector to another.  There were charges coming from media, from politicians, from church people, from non-government organization, etc.  Bala would underwrite everything to exact the proverbial pound of flesh.

Over at the Director’s Quarters where female prisoners were designated as househelpers, a certain inmate Thelma Villanueva (whose husband was her co-accused and also serving time in the Penitentiary), was suspended from the assigned task at the Director’s Quarters and was sent to the Board of Discipline for theft.  When she was returned to the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong, her fellow inmates would jeer her up for the misdeeds when her assignment was the most desired by every female inmate in the camp.  Thelma, in response and in protecting her integrity, confided that she never committed theft but it was just that the Director had already grown tired of her from  being a sex slave for months.  Her confession reached all the corners of the female ward until it landed on the awareness of her husband in Muntinlupa.  The husband, Rudy Villanueva, swore that he would challenge and assault the Director if given a chance.  During this period, the runners of Bala were quick to grab the situation.  Villanueva was asked to have a conference with Bala, so that the former could exact vengeance for his wife.  Bala was offering Villanueva to take care of everything until Director Goyena could be prosecuted.  Villanueva was hesitant since he might be rubbed off considering the fact that the Director is the most powerful person in the entire prison community.  At this instance, Villanueva went to see Msgr Ernesto Esperidion for guidance.

Msgr Esperidion took note of the inmate’s problem and went straight up the see the Director to get the reaction and response.  The  priest had been a repository of complaints, gripes and grievances coming as it were from the thousands of prisoners, in that Villanueva’s confession could have been one of the cases which could be settled by way of counseling.  But the other sector must have to be informed so that the other side could also be heard.  When Msgr Esperidion took the case to the attention of Gen Goyena, it was misinterpreted as over emphasizing.  That the Prison Chaplain was only being used by prisoners to glorify and invented yarn of tales and lies against the person of the Director.  Msgr  thereafter, went to see the inmate and after  confronting  the inmate on the facts, dismissed the charges outrightly.  Inmate Villanueva repaired back to his barracks convinced that he was no longer sure of what he was fighting for.

But the gang where Bala’s support and symphathy rested would never take Villanueva’s retreat a good ending.  Gang members persisted in courting Villanueva, even offering him protection, money and privileges.  Villanueva, who is himself an active gang recruit, glared at the prospects of receiving oodles of money and perks, went along the plan to charge the Director of Prisons.  Bala’s gang retained a lawyer to assist Villanueva.  But when Director Goyena got wind of the possible assistance that Bala extended to a potential complainant, Villanueva (Remember that it was Msgr Espiridion who brought to light the involvement of Villanueva against the Director), inmate Bala promptly grabbed the opportunity to have an audience with the Director.

Bala got the nod of the Director when he offered to intercede for the resolution of the case which Villanueva wanted to pursue.  It took sometime to twist incidents.  Villanueva must project that it was Mgsr. Espiridion who goaded him to fight Goyena so that inmate Bala could appear as an angel.  Villanueva had so much silver coins for the effort courtesy of his gang.  (And like Judas Iscariot, he would eventually recant for his act, but this would take years.  After he was released several years later, he would die by hanging.)  It was then that Msgr. Esperidion got involved at the receiving end of a twisted impression.  While he was trying to patch things up and even successfully subdued Villanueva from charging Director Goyena, he was at that instance being suspected as the principal fellow of fanning the flame of Villanueva’s anger.  Bala was even rewarded for his concern.  Bala was reclassified into minimum security status and allowed to build a spanking bungalow at the nearby lagoon of the prison reservation.  He even volunteered to act as henchman of the Director on his effort to get back at his enemies.  And at that time, Msgr. Esperidion was virtually seen as the suspect.

Then Assistant Director Jess Villanueva (no relation to the earlier named inmate Rodolfo Villanueva who was principal complainant) also wanted to ingratiate himself to Director Goyena, instead of straightening the matters, merely flowed with how the gangs strategized everything, or he may have been conscripted to by playing roles in the scheme.  As a surprise move, Assistant Director Villanueva informed the Director that an anonymous report (coming from conservative religious sector which Asst Director’s wife had numerous friends) pointed to a certain Edna Gundayao as Msgr. Experidion’s mysterious lady.  That the lady once awarded or threatened may spill the beans on her relationship, scandalous relationship with the priest.  Director Goyena did not bite it.  For him, the belief that his secretary, Lanie Bascos, was what the priest was aiming for and not another.  It was jealousy that pushed the priest to use a prisoner to get back at him and claim the secretary as reward.

Nonetheless, inmate Bala has to show off.  He must have to perform and accumulate points for Director Goyena.  He must have to cement his ties with the top official.  He went to the office of the Director and relayed the information shared by the Assistant Director.  In that, inmate Bala has already talked with the concerned lady and that she was willing to be interviewed by media on her illicit affairs with the priest.  Inmate Bala, in addition to paying off the lady also volunteered to the Director that he could likewise buy the couple (prisoner husband and prisoner wife) off to achieve peace and harmony.  That made inmate Bala an important ally of the Director.  It goes without saying that Bala became untouchable and could enjoy the perks and privileges while serving time.  (Inmate Bala, after a few more years, had completed his sentence and would be released spending the rest of his prison term in style.)

On the other hand, Msgr. Esperidion found himself at the end of media scandal, after one front page news after another featuring him in various poses as he  was hugging the tabloids for days. Accordingly, a separated woman was charging Msgr Esperidion of abusing her trust.  This was news, a staple for gossip and one that oftentimes get premium media treatment.  Naturally, the priest was scandalized and was called by his superior to explain.  When the lady after being used was already junked by her backer, she went to the priest to confess and shared her mercinary past against him.  The priest learned that an inmate was used to spread lies against him and that the inmate, accordingly to the lady, was doing it to repay the Director of Prisons.  Upon learning the true account, Msgr Esperidion spent no time analyzing but went straight to the Bishop’s Palace and reported everything that has happened to him and his “fight” in the Bureau.  Since the Church has been dragged into the scripted scandal, the Cardinal phoned the President to consult the matter for appropriate action.

The prison gangs were all excited. What they were all waiting to see was a real showdown.  Their efforts finally paid off.   It was the prison chief vs the chief chaplain!  It was the battle of good vs good!  Leader vs leader!  Prison officer vs prison officer.  There was nothing in the equation that would pit good vs evil, it was good vs good.  Evil was nowhere, evil was non existent.  That was the genius of gangs, they could push war without being involved.  And worst, they could play around with characters as if they are master puppeteers!  The prison community was very vibrant witnessing two brilliant young executives (Director Goyena and Mgsr Espiridion) throwing everything in their respective directions everything that stinks!  It was a Punch and Judy show, one after the other.  It was a comedy with tragic ends, where there were no villains only laughter in the end.  It was a zanier version of Dolphy and Panchito, of Pugo and Tugo, of Tim and Hardy.  And the gangs were the show’s producer!

Gen Goyena resigned.  Mgsr Esperidion went on leave.  And the prison gangs had reasserted its power and strength not only in the prison community but all throughout the entire prison administration.

For others, it was referred to as a slapstick comedy.  For Director Goyena, it was for him a fall.  For Mgsr. Espiridion a spiritual renewal.  For the Bureau of Corrections, it was back to board A.

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Contemplating on Old Age

My father spent his days literally all by himself after he celebrated his 80th birthday. This was because of his failing eyesight and a malfunctioning ear. He could no longer grab the morning paper to check the obituary and if at all he felt like ascertaining the latest news on radio, he must have to turn it loud, deafeningly loud, turning off most of his housemates and even neighbors for that matter. Things have changed dramatically for him. Unlike in years past when he could walk from one block after another in the neighborhood, engage the kids for some animated chat or commute from his residence to any place he wanted to—or enjoy a bus ride to and fro any site he wanted to reminisce. None of these would happen. He would merely sit out in his patio, greet his plants and tap his kittens. His world shrunk to that which was within his reach. He could no longer stretch it any further. He was merely living the moments left for him by fate, at best, left of him to physically overcome the elements of time. It would take six years more before he would succumbed to a series of all ailments principal of which was loneliness and living by himself. It was a sad period for any senior citizen, well, from the standpoint of any able-bodied person. I would however surmise that for any old fellow, senility would have deaden if not dulled their senses, perceptions and even outlook. They are even unaware that death is already staring at them any moment, even if it is a condition any living organism would confront at the moment of its birth. There is no space in time when the end spells as a natural course.

My father left this world at the age of 86, an advanced age which would even be greeted as fortunate considering the fact that the national average for male mortality is 77. What and how would my father treated the extra bonus or years is worth contemplating.

Lola Puric is still hale and healthy at 85. She is still within the female profile for Filipinas who are slightly advantaged as far their age of mortality is concerned. They survive their male counter part by almost 10 years. She subsists on her healthy meal of fish and vegetables notwithstanding the fact that she has little of earnings from her small store. She tends the daily chore in her small stall and most of the time, she would even procure the supplies and market her requirements all by herself. Lola Puric, like my father, has been widowed during their early 60s. And has since been on her own, save for some moments of cheers provided by her children and grandchildren, although not as absolute since her brood are all leading a marginal lifestyle, at time dependent on her surpluses gained from simple living.

She would be vulnerable to changes in climate. At times, she would be bed ridden by viral flu and most of the time, by her ailing joints. Since these ailments would grab her active predisposition, she would be found lying all by herself in her little corner at home, wishing for greater medicine to overcome painful moments. It was at this time when she is besieged by feeling of loneliness and in some uninspired moment, by helplessness. Her savings could no longer sustain a long-drawn struggle to procure her medicines. She would merely expect kind graces from those whom she has attended to while young but most are not that lucky however to extend assistance. She is still spritely and full of life notwithstanding the flowing gray hair and wrinkled skin. Her eyes would still reveal the beauty of a contented lady but her gait projects a period of slow demise. She would spend more time gazing at pictures of her loved ones, especially on that which she has joined in a group. Those were memorable glimpses which she treasured most and which if she would eventually leave behind, would merely be packed and boxed somewhere.

Appreciating how Lola Puric moves around, I have as yet to see any book splayed somewhere or any reading material around her. I was scouring her environs looking for a pen or pencil or any diaries for that matter. Nothing seems to have found splayed somewhere within her reach. This could have been a perfect period to contemplate. Her appreciation of her surroundings are still keen, her perception of her environment still clear.

* * *
Her vocabulary is still intact, eyesight still penetrating, her heart beat or pulse is good, or even better because she consumes an ideal amount of omega 3 from her meal of fish and vegetables. Her joints could still navigate the rough road towards the church where she attends its regular services. In other words, she can still muster and dictate on the world and rule her little kingdom of awareness. She must have saved a lot of wisdom, she must have gained a lot of experience. She must have been a trove of treasure all by herself. And how she could share to the world this period, capturing it through gems of phrases, in aphorism, is one thing which she should have dedicated herself. The world awaits for her word.

“Whitehair” is a powerful nickname attributed to one of Mindanao’s homegrown tycoon—Don Antonio O. Floirendo. He is 95 years old and except for the occasional backaches, he was a picture of a hale and healthy corporate warrior. Despite his advanced age, he never has slowed down. He would oftentimes be featured leading his company in formulating one joint venture after another. And during board meetings, even if after a few minutes he would be found dousing off, his sharp mind could still grasp any issue pertaining his business. His recall is amazing although the most recent incident would be hazy. His enteprenuerial genius is without peer. But for this kind and gentle fellow, everything he did is a matter of hard work. He may not have written anything by way of contemplation, all his acts are nonetheless worthy of writing! He was daring at a time when it was a crime to express it. He was bold and unorthodox at a period when no one even tried to access it. He never wanted to relax even if it means sitting on his prosperous laurel. He was a work machine and he does it as if in a state of playing. He never floundered and never get confused. He knew where to position himself, knowing fully well that one must be on the right place, right time and right occasion. Of course, he knew deep down that he is always the right person for the right reason. As a matter of course, he would correctly submit that there is no such thing as a poor endeavor, only a poor conveyor!

(to be continued)

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Postscript (on the book of Gen. Goyena “Stories…”)

The book “Stories worth telling friends” written by Gen Meliton D. Goyena is a mixture of autobiographical essays, self-healing as it were and more of a confessional book. It is not about praises but it is more sentimental. It waxes a historical period where he made his presence felt and it provides opinions on issues at it touches a lot of his concerns, both personal and social.

At the end of the book, the chapter “Downfall at the Bureau of Corrections”, author Goyena wanted to make a clean breast as he spells out details on his appointment at the top of the corrective service. (Since he was Director of Corrections for five years, it was already a term worthy of a good leader.) And, how he restored competence in an otherwise mismanaged agency of government—which was then the Bureau of Prisons (now Bureau of Corrections). He single handedly laid down the premise of good governance, well, literally, since he assumed office all alone without the trappings of a proud presidential appointee. Among all prison directors, Gen. Goyena came in without hangers-on, without any coterie of kibitzers, without anyone even assisting him. He drove his car all by himself and went straight up to the office of the Director and served his appointment papers to the current director whom he intends to replace. After a few official bantering, he was there reviewing documents as the man at the helm. His strength as a leader was already appreciated on day one.

It is unfortunate that author Goyena would describe his stint in the corrective service in a chapter “Downfall at the Bureau of Corrections”, but for those who worked closely with him, it was never a downfall at all. It was even a rennaisance for the prison service! He took over an agency which has been ailing, maligned and abused. The fledging agency on his assumption as administrator has been ignored and neglected for years by the entire bureaucracy. He brought life and prestige into the organization. Gen Goyena rode on the crest of Edsa revolution and he was the symbol of change which Cory government wanted to impose. And impose he did notwithstanding the fact that an earlier Cory appointee was a big frustration and a gross disappointment. He saved the day for Cory government (which at that time had been at the receiving end of deplorable criticisms) and the agency subsequently under his supervison became a standout among offices under the Department of Justice.

There were trivial moments and irritating incidents in the course of reforming an agency and those were minute and grouchy edges in government service. One cannot please everyone specially so when one must have to practically overhaul a graft-ridden institution. Gen Goyena had his shares of intrigues and complications and had to dodge a lot of machinations and numerous plots. He was savy and well kept, gentlemanly and well, a ladies man. The way to pull a person with such sterling qualities must use Machivelian techniques. Gen Goyena was not administrator to a seminary or an academe of gifted individuals, he was managing a community of serial offenders, pure predators and social outcasts. He must have to overcome the regular pains enveloping the facilities and rehabilitate the incarcerated humanity. Falling short would mean failure, succeeding however would mean victory for the career but a sacrifice for one’s peace of mind.

Author Goyena pointedly reflected in his memoirs the villains of his career in the prison service but was silent on the true manipulators, his real enemies. (The real enemies actually are behind a façade, very anonymous and hidden in secret conclaves within the gang controlled prison cells.) The prison community is such an exclusive club, mafiosi in orientation and shrewdness, the core of its existence. If a good leader takes over the reign, the gangs are apprehensive, the underworld from within is disturbed. The gang bosses must concoct a strategy to displace anyone with an honorable persuasion. Gen Goyena as prison director has been placed at the cross hair of this mission. The strategy is to identify players who can take on roles to actively destroy the leader. Deception, which has become an expertise in a community subsisting on lies, must have to be applied. Gen Goyena was projecting himself as a no non-sense figure, must therefore be pulled down and as a matter of course, his reputation must, by all means, be dismantled. A successful Goyena would mean the deterioration of gangs and eventually, syndicates would face extinction—a costly situation and an unfortunate proposition for the underworld. The gangs through its network in the religious unit operated on full time until finally, they have recruited a number of sympathizers into their fold, principal among them was a progressive chaplain, Msgr. Ernesto Esperidion including a number of religious pastors. The stage has been defined and the cause of action determined.

Most of those characters which author Goyena mentioned have linkages in the prison community, either as prisoners serving time or those who have served time already. These were the pawns used clandestinely by gangs out to impair the competence of Gen Goyena, the prison director. The gangs have extensive networks and political influences not to mention the fact that they employ a good number of supporters in and out of government. With resources at hand, they can wreck anyone they pleases to. They rejoiced at the sight when prison officials collide and would grab each other’s neck. It was a spectacle enough to blur attention on their illicit trade inside prison. At a time when Gen Goyena was having a hard time confronting trivial charges, amplified by media and other sectors, the drug trade, illegal machinations and prison rule defiance were at its height. It was a difficult period for the agency then. That would even trigger the resignation of Gen Goyena as director.

If I may propose to the good author of the book and a little amendment must be done, not necessarily on the level of proof-reading, because there are tenses, syntax and spelling violated also which I would attribute to excitement in publication, the chapter DOWNFALL AT THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS should be changed into DOWNFALL OF THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS. It is not Gen Goyena who lost but it was government that lost him. The Bureau had it share of leaders later, all came from different persuasion in the police and military but all of them have to scour the field, sink their teeth into prison affairs and feel the pulse, a set back of six months on the average, before they could launch whatever programs they intend to pursue. (Gen Goyena started correctly on day one, an exceptional feat for a new comer). This is an exacting period which means that the hidden minds in the prison community have already gained the edge. It is not surprising to find that the real force running the affairs in prison is not the one appointed Director of Corrections but those inside the prison community itself—the gangs and its efficient network!

The day Gen Goyena resigned as Director was also the day the downfall OF the Bureau of Corrections began.

By Ven Jo Tesoro , currently Superintendent of Davao Prison and Penal Farm

(NOTE: VJ Tesoro was promoted to Penal Superintendent IV by Director MD Goyena in his final year in the Bureau of Corrections, 1991 and was designated NBP Superintendent. Supt Tesoro knew that syndicates operated which as a consequence, successfully alienated Director Goyena. While handling NBP, Supt. Tesoro moved towards the abolition of gangs but the succeeding administration instead of following the prescription, relieved him instead. No one bothers to rock the boat of gangs anymore. For those at the helm, It is not only imprudent but lucrative; at best, it is also not strenous on the career. It is worthy of note that in Davao Prison and Penal Farm where Supt. Tesoro is presently assigned, there is no such thing as gangs.)

Davao Prison and Penal Farm
Dapecol, Dujali, Davao del Norte

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A Roadmap Toward Systemic Institutional Change in the Philippine Correctional System

OVERVIEW

Over the past two decades, the Bureau of Corrections has been in need of meaningful institutional improvement in the areas of corrections management, prisoner rehabilitation programs, and in the optimum utilization of its natural resources. The fact that Correctional Administration is one of the main pillars of the criminal justice system, in equal footing with law enforcement, prosecution, the court and the community, it is imperative that the correctional system be given its due importance and attention.

The constant turnover in prison leadership who, by tradition or accommodation, have come from the field of law enforcement, bringing with them a background of a different training and set of personal priorities. A firm grasp on the management and operational systems required for an effective Bureau of Corrections, and for the stability and continuity of policies, can only be delivered by a leadership that is prepared, trained, and experienced in the field of correctional administration. It is in the training and competence where the critical difference lies.
Correctional administration is in charge of the prison community, a sector populated by offensive persons, pure predators, social outcasts and emotionally deranged individuals. It is not an ordinary institution, not unlike a facility for priesthood or a seminary for compassion. It has been said that prisons is the home of the scums and dregs of society, a place where the only language of hope is dependent on rehabilitation. A leader who is not primed on this mandate of government will, therefore, be the very antithesis of success. If there is failure in corrections, the entire balance of criminal justice administration is tilted and public safety is, therefore, compromised. This is the state of Philippine Corrections today. It is graft ridden, corruption laden, incompetently managed, despite or in spite of the idealism of its career officers, practitioners, and volunteers.

NUANCES OF PRISON ADMINISTRATION
It is doubtful whether any prison administrator (past and current) ever attempted to deeply understand the prison community. Priority was given to the dynamics of supplies for the prisoners, evidently, the source of corrupt deals and instant commissions. Prison administrators were never aware that gangs and syndicates are actually running the affairs in prison. Prison Directors, coming from different persuasions, were immediately blinded by innuendoes and intrigues surreptitiously coming from organized gangs through seemingly innocent networks to further their own nefarious ends. The ambiguity results in the prison leadership’s deviation from the main job of addressing the problems of correctional administration. As a consequence, correctional management is mediocre and this failure in prison service is manifested in gross mismanagement of resources, both human, natural, and institutional. While the Director and his staff hems and hews, the prison community continues its trek toward the road of perdition.
RELEVANT HYPOTHETICAL QUESTIONS
Is the prison director to be appointed prepared for the challenge of realizing the President’s declared policy for a corrupt-free prison service? First of all, does the potential appointee know that prison gangs ought to be abolished to carry out his mission to further achieve this end? This may seem to be an easy task to comprehend, but is he up to the challenge of understanding how this can be done?
This is just for starters on operational issues. On a personal level, can he resist the pressure of organized mafia or will he just coast along and enjoy the perks of his office, in the course of which, he may just dismiss any attempt to pursue the national effort to eradicate graft and corruption?

PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER

A roadmap toward systemic institutional change is being put forward within the purview of the legal mandate or purpose of the Bureau of Corrections, as follows:

1. SECURITY – To confine persons who are convicted by the courts to serve a sentence in national prisons; and to prevent prisoners from committing crimes while in custody;

2. REHABILITATION – To provide humane treatment by affording the inmates’ basic human needs in the prison environment and prohibiting cruel methods; and, to provide a variety of rehabilitation programs designed to change their pattern of criminal or anti-social behavior; and,

3. DEVELOPMENT – To engage in agro-industrial projects for the purpose of developing prison lands and resources into productive bases or profit centers, developing and employing inmate manpower skills and labor, providing prisoners with a source of income, and augmenting the Bureau’s yearly appropriations.

In meeting these mandates, the roadmap is envisaged to lead toward:

• Organizational strengthening through the upgrading of physical facilities and standardization of equipment; personnel matching with the growing prison population and with the official functions in penal facilities; pay grade parity of organic and civilian employees with agencies having similar custodial functions; adoption of available information and security technology; and, the establishment of regional Correctional Institutions for Women.

• Firm policies on operational practices that will be most advantageous to the institution, and for the effective management of the prison population (both employees and inmates alike), and uplifting programs for the rehabilitation of prisoners.

• Judicious and legal approach to the development of the natural resources of all penal farms, with the intent to satisfy the prison community’s food sufficiency requirements, and for commercial production toward revenue generation in satisfying its development mandate.

• Review of all prison laws and their corresponding implementing rules and regulations that would eventually lead to the drafting of a present-day relevant Corrections Act for endorsement to Congress.

PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROCESS

While the process of instituting systemic change is envisaged to be implemented over the 6-year incumbency of President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III, it may be put in motion immediately considering the personal knowledge of correctional operations intimately for the past 35 years of service. The execution of these legal mandate is anchored also on the strength of its organization, and the vision and political will of its leadership; on the adoption of up-to-date practices to security and rehabilitation; on policies with regard to asset development; and, on innovative financing modes to undertake and ensure that the development of assets satisfy solely the first two mandates of security and rehabilitation.

To illustrate, the roadmap aims to address BuCor’s “Security” mandate of ‘confining persons convicted by the courts, and the prevention of crime while in custody’. It is common knowledge that the present physical facilities of prisons are overcrowded, according to the area-per-prisoner human rights measure of the United Nations, and that existing security technology and equipment are outdated based on international corrections standard.

This congestion exacerbates the difficulties of security management, and for effecting rehabilitation of prisoners. Moreover, there are many instances of prisoners, while their cases are on appeal, being incarcerated beyond the required time commensurate to their offense or sentence. This can be attributed to an inadequate administrative system that fails to monitor and flag such negligent occurrences.

As a result, the government not only violates human rights but incurs unnecessary expenses for prisoners who should no longer be confined. However, in the light of government’s present financial hardships, solving both the logistical limitations and security concerns of its penal system is untenable by conventional methodology. This situation presents an opportune moment for formulating policies that would raise funds from the development of its assets whose proceeds are to be applied solely for institutional improvements of all of the BuCor’s Prisons and Penal Farms and Correctional Institutions for Women, to name just a couple of objectives:

• Upgrading physical facilities to be at par with international corrections standard, and/or expand the inmates’ confinement area to meet acceptable human rights measure; and,

• Applying available information technology for an administrative monitoring and tracking system of prisoners’ records and schedule of hearings; and, to flag the point where custodial and civilian employees are qualified for benefits or promotion.

FIRST 100 DAYS

Toward this end, the following activities will be undertaken to enable the BuCor to assess the scope and pre-requisites of the subsequent actions to be taken to realize systemic institutional improvements:

1. Conduct a financial, asset, personnel and performance audit to determine the current financial position, asset inventory, personnel ratio for administrative and custodial functions, salary grades, and the upgrading or addition of physical structures required for meeting the needs of the current bulging prison population.

2. Installation of an Information Technology System to capture and store critical information digitally on employees’ service records, and on each prisoner’ confinement record. This shall serve as the basis for establishing promotions standards for employees. This system should also be able to track the time served from the prisoners’ sentence, and pave the way for their release, if warranted, to decongest the present prison facilities and reduce operating costs. It is estimated that some 5% of the present prison population would fall under this category.

3. Review and evaluation of all policies pertaining to prison operations and custodial practices, toward formulating operational policies that would break up gang affiliations and declare essential assets as contraband with the end in view of regaining full control of the prison, instead of the gangs and their assets controlling the employees.

4. Review and evaluation of all catering contracts pertaining to the food ration of prisoners, toward formulating policies that would reactivate and strengthen the production of appropriate penal farms for basic staple food and livestock products in order that BuCor will become a net exporter beyond the requirements of the institution and the prison community.

5. Investigate the situation of the Correctional Institute for Women, and study the need for establishing regional facilities for women, as what had been initiated by this officer for the establishment of CIW in Mindanao in collaboration with the private sector, as well as for the installation of an Assistant Director for Corrective Programs for Women.

6. Inventory and valuate all fixed assets of the agency, as well as determine its legal documentation which will lead to the full survey and titling of prison lands for future development by administration or in joint venture with third parties. Such inventory and asset valuation shall be the basis for formulating innovative financing approaches to support the agency’s mandate and programs.

7. Review and evaluate all existing Joint Venture Agreements pertaining to prison lands, and determine whether the agency is receiving its revenue share based on fair market standards.

8. Formulate policies that the revenues to be generated from the development of land resources, beyond those that are needed for the internal consumption of the prison community, shall be solely for programs of the prison and penal farm, and for the upgrading of physical structures, and the installation of administrative and security systems, and for programs focusing on prisoner rehabilitation, as mentioned above.

9. Compilation and annotation of all pertinent prison laws and rules for the purpose of drafting a current and relevant Corrections Act for endorsement to Congress into law. It will be noted that the Prisons Act of 1917 is still being adopted, and is obviously outmoded in the context of present-day setting. For the past 30 years, no laws were passed to enhance or advance the cause of corrective service in the country.

CONCLUSION

While this paper reflects the personal thoughts of the undersigned, it is being put forward from opinions and observations derived from 35 years of service with the Bureau of Corrections, and is presented for the single purpose of instilling reforms from within the system in order that the agency may function with blueprint for the continuity of its policies and programs as an institution, regardless of future changes in its leadership.

It is recognized that after the conclusion of the above activities for first 100 days, it is only then that the real work will commence and envisaged to be set in place as a blueprint for Correction Administration within the next 6-year term of President Benigno C. Aquino III. This paper does not claim to be comprehensive but it will point out the more critical and urgent needs that have to be addressed. For this purpose, it will be a work-in-progress and its development toward putting flesh into it is one that only organic personnel from within the Bureau of Corrections can be sensitive to.

In conclusion, with the background, training, and operational experience of the undersigned in prison administration, and without being self-serving, the following parting questions are put forward for appreciation: Is there a better-than-even chance that the proposed systemic institutional changes can be realized? Are we really sincere in abolishing corrupt practices within the Bureau of Corrections? Are we familiar with, and prepared to instill rehabilitation programs that will restore hope for the incarcerated humanity, preparatory to ushering them back as productive members of mainstream society? Can all these institutional changes be implemented via innovative financing modes outside the general appropriations budget? Do we have the sincerity of heart and the political will to see these through?

The answers to these questions lie in this paper ‘Roadmap Toward Systemic Institutional Change in the Philippine Correctional System’, and in the preparedness and competence of the career officers to see them through.

VENANCIO J. TESORO
Prison Superintendent IV
BUREAU OF CORRECTION

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The Psychology of the Prison Community

Whenever we refer to psychology, we oftentimes, well as a matter also of understanding, infer the usual behavioral mode or something about the personality of a subject or matter we wish to look into. However, for this purpose, when we speak of psychology of the prison community, it is not so much as to discuss the psychological principles and tenets of the science with respect to a specific concern like incarceration but a momentary awareness of a community surviving in a total environment subject to totalitarian dictates referred to as prison rules.
Except for instances covered in media whenever there are riots or mass escapes, prisons is an alien albeit remote community segregated from the free society and hated even by proponents of virtues and the so-called decent class. The prison community is indeed a separate entity with its own culture and norm. Looking into the depths of its social links within the walls, It has even evolved its respective sub culture of its own. It has its own language, set of manners and disposition. As a matter of fact, it is the inverse of the free community. What is acceptable in the prison community does not always jibe with what is acceptable in the free community. What makes a person anxious in the free community does not necessarily make a prisoner anxious inside.
I made a simple experiment in the facility where I was assigned and the result was telling. I used my students as controlled group and prisoners as experimental group. I asked the students what they feel if I remind them of their loved ones. Each of them, well, all of them for that matter swore that they were happy. All exhibited a wide grin at the stimulating expression. On the other hand, given the same exercise among prisoners, most if not all, expressed grief and anxiety. Several prisoners from the maximum wing even broke down when reminded of their families. A simple stimulation indeed could determine where a person is. If free or under restraint.
Even in the matter of choice and response, even in such concern as hope and aspiration, the prison community is inverse that of the free community. Hence, when an outsider feels that a prisoner is sad because in his estimation a consideration outside merits sadness, then that person is totally incorrect. The standards of the free community is useless when used in the prison community. The same can also be said when a prisoner would appreciate an instance using his situation as against that obtaining in the free community.
The prison community is not actually a community as defined in sociological terms. It is a even misnomer. No matter how audacious the prison system (and its core of officers) is in recreating an ambiance of freedom in prison facilities, like establishing churches, classrooms, campuses, hospitals, reading centers or even parks, normalcy is still wanting. Even the call for human rights is outside the concerns of the prison community. Not as a matter of course but as a matter of fact. The fountain head of human rights is freedom. Without it, there is nothing to anchor the precepts and principles of human rights. It is merely exploring what pertains sub-human rights if indeed there is such a thing. It is in the process of releasing and when a person is discharge from the process of incarceration that human rights should be applied.
Under the regime of incarceration, a person is a statistic, identified as a number and refered to as a category. He lives under total submission to rules and regulations. He is not expected to be different. To be otherwise is a violation and if shown among his peers, could even prove fatal. He must belong yet he must be apart. He must display a certain degree of adjustment but only in so far as being maladjusted. He should be dependent on the routine, a situation which is almost inhuman. Initiative and creativity are outright dereliction. He must cripple his sense of dynamism and blunt his cravings for resourcefulness. Under this depressive and anxious situation, a prisoner is expected to overcome anxiety and depression. And this situation is not even manufactured by prison staff. It is built around the concrete perimeter fence and the regularity of headcount.
Yet the prisoner is observed to exist in a situation deprived of privacy. On his own, he must learn deception as an art, and must have to embrace it even as a religion. He knows and is quite aware that incarceration is painful. Imprisonment makes a person imbalanced. Segregation for years would have a telling scar on his psyche. The period of his penal servitude is an episode unworthy of his memories. He must be abnormal to be normal. He must be insane to be sane. He must be unrealistic to be realistic. He must be a vegetable to feel his humanity.

(To be continued)

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