Anonymous letters are a bane in government.  In the prison service (and actually in the whole bureaucracy), it can even break a career.  It is used as template in running after a government officer and he does not even know what hit him.  In law, if a complaint is unverified it is never reckoned at all.  But in another legal provision, even if a complaint is unverified when the facts detailed in the complaint is verifiable then a case may be considered for investigation and prosecution.


In the prison service, if an officer is strict, he becomes unpopular and becomes a target for complaints.  On the other hand, if he is lenient to the point of being tolerant, he is also subject for intrigue and speculation.  Both instances, the officers are made to answer for such demeanour.  In short, in no time at all, he must respond to numerous and countless harassment suits and cases.  As a consequence, he undergoes stress and a bit sloppy.  If he exudes this kind of a persona during his tour of duty, he becomes careless and vulnerable especially in attending to the requirements of the prison service.  If he is a prison guard, he loses his temper.  If he is a civilian personnel, he loses his focus and staff work mislaid.


In the prison service, an uninspired stare on a prisoner is enough to merit a complaint.  And complaints can be fabricated to suit a specific instance.  There was once a rookie prison guard who detested gambling among prisoners during his watch.  The prisoners obliged only to concoct an incident where one among them is lured to rub his skin with a wet metal so that it would welt and become reddish.  Once, the “welt” is all over his body, the group brings the inmate to the hospital with a complaint that the rookie guard mauled the fellow.  A report was made.  Charges were readied and poor prison guard, dismissed with prejudice to future employment.  This is a regular fare which prison officers must confront every now and then.


In the prison service, the truth at times is a shade between un-truth and half-truth.  The prison community struggles to be the free community and the latter interprets the former according to its norm.  That is where the trouble begins.  The prison community is the reverse of the free community.  What is good in the prison community is bad in the free community.  Subservience is the normative behaviour in the prison community, it is however a shameful act in the free community.  Talk about loved ones in prison and the inmate cries.  Talk about loved ones in the free community and everyone rejoices. 


Death in prison is included in the list of releases.  In the free community, it is otherwise.  Sickness in the free community is a respite from stress, although it is a consequence.  In prison, sickness is detested although it is sometimes feigned.  A friend in the free community is mainly fair weathered ones.  In prison, it is born out of adversity and trial.  And yet, friendship in the free community is binding and that which has been forged in prison is brittle.  This is the milieu of the prisoner, the prison officer, the volunteer and the like.  If one cannot make anything out of it, things go haywire and it becomes a headache.


Before, when a prison guard enters the service, he dreams that one day he will be a Superintendent.  Now, it is different.  A prison guard dreams that once he retires, he will not be charged of any case.  Never mind if he will not be promoted as long as he has no pending case.  To be charged administratively or criminally is a terrifying situation for those in the prison service.  A certain prison guard in Davao who was slapped with an administrative case committed suicide.  A number of prison officials who were about to retire were met with a series of administrative charges too.  For those in the prison service, to be ignored and bypassed is already a blessing.


NOTES:  When I met Congressman Rodolfo Biazon a few weeks ago, we discussed prison programs.  I suggested that instead of modernization in prison (because it is almost impossible to modernize if the benchmark is USA or Australia), legislative effort should be focused on the passage of a Corrections Act.  He reckoned.

DOJ Legislative Consultant and former DOJ Assistant Secretary Atty Teresita Domingo believes that transferring NBP prisoners to the penal farms is a doable option rather than planning for the transfer of NBP.  (Atty Domingo left for USA for heart treatment.  We pray for her early recovery.)

Kudos to Atty. Lourdes Vicente (better half of Dr. Warlito Vicente, one of the finest surgeons of Davao).  Atty Vicente retired in government service as legal officer of the Office of the Muslim Affairs and has chosen Correctional Institute for Women in Mindanao as her work place.  She is teaching Arabic, Islam Principles and acts as legal consultant to the prison community as well.  May her tribe increase!

About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on April 23, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Totoo po ang mga nabanggit ninyo. Sana naman ay hindi lamang mga bilannggo at dalaw ang tulungan ng bagong administrasyon kundi pati na rin ang mga empleyado na biktima ng ganitong istilo ng paninira. Ang nababalitaan namin kung minsan una-unahan lang ng sumbong, kakadikit sa mga bilanggo nagiging utak bilanggo na rin naniniwala agad sa bulong o anonymous complaint na wla man lamang na mabigat na ebidensiya bago magbaba ng karampatang aksiyon. Kapag empleyado daw po ang inereklamo may parusa o sanction agad. Ngunit pag hindi napatunayan wlang parusa sa bilanggo. Sana makatulong po ang Legal Office sa mga empleyadong hinaharass ng inmate o dalaw kung makikita na dahil ito sa pagganap sa kanilang tunkulin at kasinungalingan lamang ang reklamong inihain laban sa kanila.


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