Monthly Archives: April 2013

WORKER, behold your lifespan!

worker fate

Yearly, work-related deaths in this country are estimated to number more than 2 Million.   2.34 Million to be exact.  2 Million Deaths are occupational and disease related and the rest are through accidents.  In a report submitted to the International Labor Organization, technological and social changes, as well as difficult global economic conditions, existing health hazards remain a persistent threat to workers not only in this country but all over the world while new health risks have also emerged.

******

The prevalent and well documented occupational disease is respiratory related illnesses that remain widespread.  Considering the fact those workers in this country is concentrated more on farm and in exposed labor work their exposure to the elements easily could contract pneumoconiosis and asbestos related illnesses.  Added aggravating factors include exposure to chemicals in work activities, diseases cause by physical agents, contact with biological agents, infectious or parasitic diseases, and occupational diseases by target organ systems, skin diseases, musculoskeletal disorders, mental and behavioral disorders and occupational cancer.  In other words, workers today have almost the same lifespan compared with that of his ancient ancestor when work was then limited to hunting.  It has gone full circle.  Man lives only up to an old age of 47!

*****

In the correctional setting, the prevailing health challenge that contributes highly on its death rate is likewise respiratory in nature.  To be specific, more on PTB or Pulmonary Tuberculosis cases.  Even for the sake of argument that the P50 per capita is not enough nutrition to make a prisoner healthy, and even assuming further that it be increased two-fold, say P100 a day, tuberculosis would still remain as a hold over infectious disease that could claim an inmate’s life.  The stress and pressure of institutional discipline and routine, not to mention apprehension and the violent relationship forged, had a marked degree of emotional and psychological impact on the person that no amount of nutrition can offset.

*****

And while medical science has virtually wiped out the strain that promotes tubercular infection through vaccine and related medical procedures, there arise a new strain which scientists are baffled.  Such PTB strain which can no longer be treated anymore.  A strain which has added into the list of ailments, like Aids and Cancer, which cannot be contained and cured, even by modern science.  Deaths in prison caused by PTB will therefore continue for some time.

*****

Correctional officers also must take heed and should be warned accordingly.  They have direct and open exposure in the prison camp.  Their custodial obligation requires them to experience absolute contact within the prison community.  While PTB is not airborne, it is contagious.  Much more so, some inmates like most rural (and some urban) folks spit normally anywhere, PTB bacterial spread is made in the surrounding space and environment.  In Singapore, a person is instantly arrested when seen spitting, or even chewing a gum!  It makes sense if applied in prison also.

*****

 

 

Advertisements

ELECTORAL ANGUISH

election anguish

The prevailing schools of thought about election strategy boil down to organization.  It has been an common place racket before to organize any kind of grouping just so it could present itself to a candidate for purposes using it as block vote—a solid, one-punch vote on election day.  Hence, there were local association of senior citizens, basketball clubs, neighborhood alliance, artists and student guilds, movements of professionals and lately what would materialize as a party list.  All these are meant to carry a singular and exclusive vote in favor of a candidate or a group of candidates—either with a charm for leadership, with the goods to distribute, or with enough courage to sustain an advocacy acceptable to the groups he is courting.

*****

There is the so-called “Iglesia vote”, “Purple vote”, “youth vote”, “farmers vote”, labor vote” and all kinds of vote.  Hundred party list groups have emerged from their cocoon as shadow supporters of major political party and now, has been conferred by the High Court as a legitimate political party which can formally be registered and enter into the fray on the day of election.  While it may to a certain extent blur the distinction of formal and informal representation because some names of party list organization would, at first glance, indicate even a title or potential title of a movie and therefore comical.  Their entry in effect reduces the seriousness of the task of national building, lowering the standard and translating national development into a mockery, from advocacy to hilarity; from earning a niche in history to earning so much all the way to the bank.  Only a handful of candidates deserve the recognition of history but they are gobbled up by a deluge of expensive competition.

*****

And this is nasty, while it can be said that the people are hyped and excited to contribute their voice, there is the threat that the exercise was merely meant as a social cosmetic only.  In some hot spots, winners are known already.  Worst, votes are already prepared waiting for the formality of counting, never mind the real ballots cast by the voters on Election Day.  This is one problem which government must check.  This is one gray area which Comelec must truly determine.  Such flagrant corruption of votes is an insult to the people.  It forms a basis for insurgency not to fold up and sustain their advocacy for a genuine government.  If government cannot safeguard and protect a single vote, then there must be a force willing to defend it.  Power abhors vacuum.  So when government cannot exercise its power, it invites and encourages another to fulfill its obligation on the ground.

*****

Political analysts try to ascertain which approach is most effective in cornering the votes of the people.  Is it through vote-buying?  Is it through voter’s conscience?  Is it through coercion?  Is it through ballot switching?  Is it through voter education?  Ward politics is it?  Good old fashioned marketing then?  We take a leaf from the principle of product sale and exposure therefore.  Is it the rebate condition?  Is it the brand design?  Product or name recall?   Come election time, it is always, different folks, different strokes.  But of course, we have to lump the entire profile of votes into a specific persuasion.  Promises no longer bind votes.  Pledges for a while may be hold one’s attention but it is frail and pathetic.  Endorsement may be helpful but it corresponds to vote procurement knowing that the endorser is paid handsomely in most instances.

*****

This coming election not only are voters in a tailspin in selecting, thousands of candidates are undergoing the anguish also of wishing to get a crack at their aspired posts—to die even or probably in exchange of the devil’s blessings.  Whatever, at the rate of the country’s continued struggle for the elusive prosperity, election time is still pure grief for all.

*****

AT A GLANCE.  The dangers of saving data on software is that if it is folded, that is, decommissioned, like what ever happened to “multiply.com”, everything you have in your site—-blogs, pictures, quotes, everything have been melted along with your account.  Don’t rely on software and attractive web accounts.  Build your own personal data base instead with back up tools.

****

 

 

BATTLING DIABETES

sick

New York based scientists found a responsive hormone they intend to develop into a drug to treat diabetes.  This is good news for Filipinos who are predisposed to the disease, which has been passed on genetically, and for some, an effect of dietary abuse.  Filipinos are rice eaters; rice as staple, which is pure sucrose, the source of sugar that could promote diabetes.  It weakens the pancreas—where insulin is produced by beta cells.  Death caused by diabetes is trending and threatening to replace hypertension as the number one killer.

*****

There are also studies that suggest that Filipinos are also fond of eating bitter gourd or ampalaya, an edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all fruits.  This is a plant of the tropics and which has been discovered to have strengthening properties favorable to a healthy pancreas.  Provinces in the country like in Northern Luzon where ampalaya is part of their meal never knew any ailment related to pancreas, much more so pertaining diabetes.  But the trend in consuming processed food, courtesy of food chains, lured people to change also their eating habits.  Where ampalaya falls short from the list.  As a consequence, ailment related to a weak pancreas like diabetes has entered the picture.

*****

Hence, for a diabetic, he needs a shot of insulin to move and work normally in a day.  Without such medical intervention, he feels sluggish, haggard and lethargic.  Worst, a diabetic in effect has high blood sugar which could lead to heart disease, stroke and damage to kidneys, eyes and the nervous system.  A simple bruise may turn into a diabetic wound, an injury difficult to care and treat.  To a large extent, amputation of affected part, like legs and arms, are surgically resorted to in order to arrest the growth of the infection.

*****

I have a friend who was devastated by diabetes to the extent that both his legs were badly affected.  Both his lower extremities had discolored and almost turning blue.  Blood has thickened that it was no longer circulating properly.  He was sent to the hospital for possible amputation.  It was there where I saw a picture of a dejected person a shadow of a former jovial personality.  I left after a few minutes.  Three months later, I received an invitation from my friend to visit him at home.  I would picture my friend as wheel chair-bound patient and gloomy.  I must borrow courage to stand in front of his gate and as I was ushered to his living room, I was surprised to see my friend, in shorts, with a healthy (real) legs at that about to jump to see me.  He confided to me that after my hospital visit, he would just repair back home to await his fate.  He tried reading books and pamphlets about herbal cures —which I send to him via email and there he came across the effect of muscovado (unprocessed sugar, or as we call in the vernacular, panutsa).  Since he had nothing to lose, or since he was about to lose his legs anyway, he might as well try muscovado.  He had in all his meals where sugar is needed, used muscovado instead.  He would even consume a kilo within a week.  Result:  his legs changed its color to a healthy hue.  A month later, he went for a regular medical check up and his doctor was surprised to note that his diabetes has been cured!  I don’t know if his meal included ampalaya, although I presumed he does because I noticed his garden featured a row of vines of bitter gourd, but his disclosure were more of muscovado.  There is  subsequent cure for those with diabetes indeed.

****

For the new generation, there are numerous procedures to undertake without resorting to drugs or waiting breathlessly on the findings of scientists to cure diabetes.  As a matter of fact, it is just a simple routine.  Eat only a small proportion of rice and include into the weekly meal menu an ampalaya.  Don’t forget muscovado too.  And kiss diabetes goodbye.

LABOR DAY THOUGHTS

labor day

A few months ago, I attended a conference at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The place is the proud site of the tallest building in the world—the Petronas Tower.  Kuala Lumpur boasts of a vibrant economy too spread out on a highly nationalistic environment.  Malaysia’s secret?  They allow foreigners to own land in their country.  There is however a caveat when a foreign country would use the land for commercial purposes which oftentimes is the reason for real estate procurement.  The foreign industry should tap only Malaysians as manpower.

*****

There is something defective that I have observed during my week long sojourn in Kuala Lumpur though.  Amidst the impressive flow of smooth traffic in downtown KL  and latest models of sports car plying the route, the taxi services are a turn off.  Only a few clean cabs are around, mostly are run down, late model and fledging sedans.  If only on this score, Davao City is better several notches over KL.

*****

Of course, they—the Malaysians— also have an advantage.  They have oil.  While it can be said that the Philippines is much higher in terms of natural resources, government is too democratic to impose a standard of competence in its administration.  In Malaysia, strong man Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad during his incumbency as Prime Minister for 22 years, pursued an iron hand in pushing Malaysia to the edge of progress and thereafter, literally placed Malaysia on top of Southeast Asia.  He managed Malaysia in a dictatorial manner but he never enriched himself nor used it to cover corruption and any self-serving mission.  Under Ramos, we would have succeeded in trailing Malaysia but he was limited to a 6 year term.  Thereafter, we slid back and the next episode in the storied economic struggle of our country, we found ourselves almost at the bottom near Bangladesh and other calamity stricken islands in the south pacific.

*****

In Kuala Lumpur, there are two predominant foreigners which has settled and embraced Malaysia as its birthplace.  There is the Chinese and the Bombays from India.  They are never to be assimilated into the nationalistic Malaysian race including entry into major commercial or economic activity.  They are rather limited to vending small stores or as runners and cab drivers.  Only Malaysians have the right to occupy managerial positions, government functions and high end economic activity.  That precisely is the reason why most Chinese in the country would rather have their own space for their economic program.  Thus, Singapore was born where the Chinese handles commerce and the Indians in charge of government administration.

*****

Here in this country, there is a constitutional prohibition for foreigners to own solely a specific properly like land.  If at all they intend to come in and introduce business, it should be on a percentage of ownership basis only.  By this is meant that foreigners must observe the 60-40 rule.  They are obliged to find dummies therefore, or, in other words, technically required to fool a system and skirt around the law, just so they can conduct their business.  There are draft bills addressing this concern but the problem is not on legislation.  It should be a constitutional convention to correct and amend the basic law of the land.  But charter change is farthest from anyone’s concern.

*****

Its Labor consciousness leading to the day but we have more people in the peasantry, in the agricultural sector, than laborers because we have little industry.  We have little to show in terms of manufacturing even our own requirements.  The lowly pin and needle we use to sew our clothing is imported.  I remember an exasperated expression of a child to his father:  “Dad, you said God made everything!  How come every item in this house says its “Made in China!”

 

GOOD AND BAD NEWS

good bad news

A mountaineer fell off the cliff in Batangas.  What baffled the investigators is the loss of his belongings.  It has been said that the mountain climber fell from a 300 feet height and all his things may have scattered due to the impact.  I remember a taxi cab that was swept in Blumentritt, Manila a few years ago.  The cab driver was thrown out from his car due to the impact when the on rushing train trampled his vehicle.  As soon as he landed unconscious, a lot of people milled in the area.  Result:  when the police and rescue team arrived he was already a picture of nudity.  Everything in his body was frisked and taken away, even his vehicle was almost drained of its spare parts.  The same is true on cases of accidents and the one who fell off the mountain must have undergone the same frisking routine by passersby.  I remember an adage:  Birds when alive eat ants.  In return, ants eat birds when dead.

*****

A lot of candidates barnstorming communities to court votes are already reaching the final limits of their comfort zones.  Almost all candidates are complaining that their complexion is already affected.  They must wave at the crowd during the convoy.  They must also gate crash any place where people are milling.  Some would even knock at doors like those selling “special offers.”  This is on the belief that for every hand that they have shaken, for every leaflet distributed, for every tarp installed for every onlooker who saw them would be translated into votes.

*****

Candidates everywhere must have to struggle and overcome a lot of obstacles.  They must scrimp and spend a fortune.  They must haggle and wear a smile all throughout.  They should never be seen as snub or high profile, they must be perceived as one of the masses.  They should even look like one of the great unwashed.  Their lives are on the line and the threat is more real than imagined.  The danger is not only political, not only feudal, not only social but also ideological.  This is all because they wanted to serve?  But service means that one should not traverse a road on harm’s way.  Why lay down so much sacrifice?  What is the real score here?

*****

This is good news for retiring government personnel.  Under Budget circular 2013-1 dated April 12, 2013, government retirees will receive their retirement perks, gratuities and other benefits within 30 days from their actual date of retirement, provided all necessary requirements are submitted 90 days prior to that date.  It is therefore prudent for those who are about to retire, to seek assistance from their office three months before they retire to work on the paper works for submission to immediately facilitate the release and issuance of the benefits pursuant to the budget circular.

*****

The good news is that the country is moving higher and improving economically says World Bank.   The bad news is that economic growth over the past six years hardly made a dent in poverty incidence.  This can be gleaned on the percentage of Filipinos living below the poverty line remained practically the same between 2006 and 2012 official statistics showed.

*****

While it is not a sin or a crime to be poor, because poverty actually is a choice, much like a simple life, poor governance and a corrupt regime leads to a sinful state or a period ripe for criminality.  Brazil was very similar to the Philippines years ago.  Poverty is almost a vocation.  But Brazil’s president, Luis Ignacio da Silva, better known in his country as Lula, changed how it should be.  It has been said that Brazil is “one country that leaped out of the emergency room, turning from terminal to robust, eradicating poverty by half in less than a decade”, considering the fact that it is fifth the largest country in the world next to the United States.  Lula’s way of applying governance made it happened.  There is hope therefore and this is largely on the manner we choose our leaders.

****

The good news is that on May 13, we will choose our leaders.  We must know who will save us from destitution.  There should be a “Lula” somewhere campaigning out there.  The bad news is:  If none could measure up to a standard, then better do something productive on election day than waste your time.

 

 

 

EARTH DAY FOLLIES

earthday

Its Earth Day this April and this country has a lot of sins to confess to Mother Nature.  In Asia alone, it has the poorest forest cover.  Its mineral resources have been allowed to be exploited and pre-meditatedly explored not by its own people but by neighboring forces.  The country has the finest aggregates, the finest gold, the finest hardwood trees, the finest steel, the finest fossil fuel, etc. which local officials would negotiate from other countries for its exploitation.  Result:  the local official personally becomes prosperous but his region is browbeaten from its native wealth.  Countries where  our natural resources are delivered become rich while we become poorer by the day.  An ordinary transaction looks like this.  For example, Taiwan imports raw hardwood from the Philippines.  It is exported back to the Philippines as a finished product.  Raw materials are bought, say at one peso and sold back at one thousand pesos.  That is timidity.  But all self respecting Filipino will not admit to that.  They all feel more superior and wiser like a beggar in the street corner who expects alms thrown at him because he believes that people owe him money!

*****

NPA forces in western Mindanao engaged the convoy carrying Gingoog Mayor Ruth Guingona and sprayed it with bullets and explosives for ignoring the rebel check point.  The barricade was actually a control feature in the enforcement of “revolutionary taxes” and other conditions from candidates who wanted to travel and campaign in so-called rebel territories.  The rebel check point may have been a good “law enforcement” approach complimenting the deficient muscle of government police personnel against criminal elements but when it is directed to compel some people to come across then it is pure banditry and up close a criminal act.

*****

To a certain extent, rebellion in the countryside, at times expressed in protests and outward discontent by a minority, is tolerated and even understood in the context of democratic principles as long as it never transgress or violate the rights of others.  In most instances, it is even encouraged to promote check and balance.  Allowing the submission of dissatisfaction is not an act of surrender.  Although it may for some interpreted as a weakness, it signifies also some strengths.  A dynamic community has a constituency that is critical and discriminating.  If that happens, then progress is not far behind.  If we have a community where people are subservient, where discontent is a rebel quality, hidden and sustained only in the hills, then that community would remain backward, insecure and unstable.

*****

In Japan, when a government official is humiliated either he resigns from his post or he commits seppuku (a Jap ritualistic term for suicide).  Here in the Philippines, the official is contented on announcing resignation only but it is just that, an announcement.  After taking the people for the ride, he gets back as if nothing happened.

*****

It is really funny that some respectable personalities running for public office are sometimes drawn into some kind of crazy beliefs.  They believe that the more leaflets, the more banners, the more convoys , the bigger and colorful their tarps , the more voters are lured to elect them.  The more handshakes, the more smiles bounced back, the more people trucked in, the more followers paid to elicit avidity, the more convincing the possibility of winning.  Of course, this is the usual and traditional formula.  The more visible, the better.  But the convincing and sure-fire formula is:  the more exposed to public service is better than tons of election paraphernalia.

 

GENDER AND AGE DO MATTER

GENDER

Phil among most gender equal nations.  And why not.  We have had two women presidents in almost quick succession.  Women are strategically appointed in sensitive government posts—like the Department of Justice, Supreme Court, Ombudsman, Commission on Human Rights, etc.  There are also more women —55%— comprising division chiefs in national government, lawmakers and managers.  And there are more women workers in the civilian bureaucracy also.  Sometime ago, a female cadet topped the honor roll at the Philippine Military Academy—once an exclusive academic enclave of male soldiery.  As if it is not enough, the topnotch taxpayer for this year is also a woman!

*****

Two top newspapers in the country have women as editor-in-chief.  It goes without saying that the editor of the bestselling Reader’s Digest is also a domain of women.  Gone were the glory days of male writers.  Even the most successful novelist, J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series is a woman.  Rowling is not even a full-fledged literary artist but a housewife, who takes to writing to wean boredom away while waiting for her itinerant husband.

*****

It has been said that gender inequality is most prevalent in developing countries but the Philippines, considered a lower middle income nation, is the only exception.  It has been said that Filipina wives enjoy the power of purse more than their counterparts in other Asian countries.  In most provinces of the country, the cultural profile is more matriarchal.  There are also more women in high skilled occupations.  In an ordinary household, husbands fear most their wives than their enemies!

*****

That probably explains why President Noynoy Aquino would rather remain a bachelor for life, since almost his entire formative years were governed by illustrious and dominant women, his mother, his sisters, his aunts to name a few.  It is only now that he could enjoy his own shadows!  He never had that liberty to be his own man except at this time.

*****

While the world is busy reviewing public safety capability on one hand, and celebrating earth day on the other.  While the world is determining gender issues and human rights considerations.  When religion and ideology seem to revive man’s quest for peace and its violations, there is one move which literally stunned self styled moralists and social purists.  This also, at a time, when Philippine legislators passed the controversial Reproductive Health Bill and contemplating on formulating Divorce.  New Zealand just passed a law on same-sex marriage!

*****

There is a place in Japan where there are more centenarians than in any other place in the planet.  A few days ago, the world’s oldest person turned 116 years old, still hale and healthy.  The woman was also a recipient of a certificate from Guinness World Records confirming her status as the oldest living woman as she celebrated her birthday in a Japanese nursing home.  Her mantra was “to eat light and live long.”  Her favorite meal is partly sea food and farm products in small proportions.  In a study conducted among those whose age has reached 100, the prevailing commonality is on the small amount of food they consume.

*****

 

 

THE MIND OF A BOMBER

bomber

US law enforcement, after a couple days, was able to pin down the identities of those involved in the Boston bombing incident.  Two boys almost out of their juvenile years, a 26 year old and another a 19 year old students of Boston school.   They are brothers.   Both are migrants from Chechnya, a Russian minor province.  Their parents sought sanctuary in US soil and applied for citizenship which eventually was granted.

*****

What is behind this?  What is the persuasion behind the bombing?  Who stands to benefit from the violent mayhem committed?  What exactly will settle maiming several innocent civilians in the resulting carnage?  Assuming that the identified culprits, boys in their early adulthood, were the bombers, what compelled them to do it?  The crime is not one of passion, an instant, something which could have pushed them or made them snap.  It is a crime with deliberation as shown from the devise they used.  It was a slow, predetermined effort to work slowly in preparing a home-made bomb.  They boys barely out of their juvenile years, inexperienced in the field of terrorism, may have been inspired or lured into something sinister.

*****

Surely, these boys acted with care, discretion and discernment.  They knew the consequences.  The bomb they were carrying had a purpose, one that would express their feelings and concerns.  They do not even look like they were the hopeless and desperate kind.    They were admitted in prestigious schools and the younger one even became a state scholar.  From a rural Russian province, these boys were reintroduced into American life and for a decade they were literally assimilated.  Their adjustment must have been too punishing psychologically for them.  While they grew as kids of strict Islamic environment, the American liberal atmosphere proved too generous for their adventurous and rebellious nature.  They were not only brought up in a copious community but fed with freethinking.  This may have been what inspired them to express and enforce their lethal plans.

*****

The evil duo, a label of hatred they got after being identified as the culprits, believed, and may have subscribed in the mantra that one must destroy something in order to build a new one.  History of warfare yields numerous dramatic pictures where an area is bombed into extinction or bombed if only to be reconstructed into an ideal setting.  A Biblical scenario may have been noted also where Sodom and Gomorrah was flattened by an angry God because of excessive and sinful living.   Scholars know this.  The problem however with migrants is their conservative appreciation of where they are situated.  The feeling of alienation, of being unfit, of being belittled if not discriminated rule their day.  In USA, not so much in Europe, discrimination is the order of the day.  Life in the US has become impersonal to the point that life is mistaken as routine and ordinary.  Those who succeed are the most objective.  Migrants are basically a subjective lot.

*****

It is not surprising that in places where impersonal relationship is descriptive of environment, heinous crime prevail.  An urban area which has achieved quite a level of barbaric hostility is ripe for any criminal mind to explode his evil deeds.  Denizens in these places should always be vigilant and always on the alert.    They must also be on their guard and if possible familiar with martial arts.  Without this component, any person is like a prey innocently roaming in a predatory environment.  Here, it is either the government or vigilantes who must stabilize the surroundings.  In their absence, the citizens are threatened with extinction.

*****

HAGEDORN

HAGEDORN

I personally know former Mayor and now independent senatorial candidate Edward S. Hagedorn.  I was prison superintendent of Iwahig penal colony sometime in 1995 when I met him as newly elected mayor of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.  He is (not was) a good local government executive.  He transformed a dusty and filthy community into a disciplined and dirt conscious city.  He also eradicated jueteng, the bane and curse of principled law enforcement in his turf, making Puerto Princesa the only city in the whole country without the gambling nuisance.

****

Hagedorn admitted to his youthful follies enjoying gangster and Mafiosi role in the strip of an island, which Palawan is, maintaining jueteng and other forms of gambling until one day, he decided to go straight.  That started his trek in the political scene.  From there on, he kicked the gambling vice away, cornered gambling lords and embraced the principle of an honest local government leadership.  There was no turning back for him.  He would single mindedly convert Puerto Princesa City as the gateway of tourism.  In the process, he would be ranked as one of the most effective, most efficient and most competent mayor in the region if not in the greater country side.

*****

He wanted to prove that he can transform Puerto Princesa into a wholesome city.  But he had one  problem.  Almost half of Puerto Princesa City is the Iwahig Penal Colony.  While Iwahig brought civilization in the outback of Palawan, including the fledging Puerto Princesa, it is a bleak spot, a humiliating space and a terrifying area which might bring down business and tourism.  Then Mayor Hagedorn wanted Iwahig proclaimed in favor of his administration for his social program.  It was at that time that the good Mayor found a youthful protagonist championing the restoration of Iwahig back into its luster as a world recognized open institution prison.  I was then at the helm of Iwahig penal colony when then Mayor Hagedorn wished for a confrontasi on the issue of Iwahig.  We both held on our reign and influence.  Nobody from our respective side blinked at that time.  At that instance, he transformed  himself from a decent executive into a hoodlum;  from a scholarly bureaucrat, I became a thug.  Both of us became gangsters for a cause.  He wanted to invade Iwahig, make it a wholesome park for Puerto Princesa City; I protected Iwahig from his intrusion if only to transform it into a model correctional center of the country.

*****

But I would give it to the Mayor for his audacity in fulfilling his vision for a grand Puerto Princesa minus the fearsome Iwahig.  He went hammer and tong working for my ejection from the area until finally I was driven out of my command as head of Iwahig.  At that time, which is during my incumbency, tourists were already lured to a handsome Iwahig.  Puerto Princesa was getting the short end of the tourism attraction and I was, all the more, placed at the cross hair of his hostility.  Political connections were comprehensively tapped.  As a result,  I was recalled back to the National Penitentiary and the Mayor had all the time in the world to promote his vision.

*****

Despite the negative wedge that drove our profession and dreams apart, my respect is still with the man.  He never wavered in his principle.  He led Puerto Princesa as if his entire reputation and integrity lie on its bearing.  He worked hard and consistently, something missing from all politicians in the entire stretch of the universe.  He never slowed down at all!  Regardless of our near violent past, my admiration for the man has not been diminished.  If ever I enjoy a multiplication of votes, I would add him in my short list of senatoriables.  The man simply is a hard worker and that is what is needed in the Senate.

 

 

 

 

THE CORRECTIONAL SETTING

bucor2

Whenever there is dearth on news to banner, media traditionally would flock in prisons and jails.  The National Penitentiary is always at their cross hair.  It is here where news, sensational ones, is to be grabbed.  Even a small incident can be blown out of proportion and media followers would surely get their comeuppance.  Every corner, every criminal profile is a sure fire formula not wanting for an audience.  Writing something about prison is always a best seller.

*****

A few days ago, 13 detainees—all undergoing trial for heinous crime, bolted Sagoy Jail in Ilo-ilo. They overwhelmed the custodial personnel.    Thereafter, two prison guards in the National Penitentiary were hacked by a wayward inmate.  These are but a few recent cases where prison personnel have to confront the hazards of their profession.  They should be alert at all times, never to bring down their guard so to speak and of course, armed with the necessary security gadgets to protect their exposed bodies from sudden, treacherous attack.  Here they must buy a vest, a tazer (stun gun) and a tear gas canister, to name a few.  I say buy because there is no budget for these items.  The vest alone could cost almost P10K.  To be protected therefore from instant violence means a guard must fork out something like 30K for his personal welfare.

*****

Every error in correctional administration is oftentimes blamed on its custodial personnel.  While administrators would fail to get the usual logistical support from government because there is little fund as appropriation, the lowly guards must have to contend with what they have.  But prisoners are growing more sophisticated due to their gang support and “education.”  From this equation, the prison personnel are already at a disadvantage.  While gangs have the muscle and resources to sow fear and bribe their way, the prison guards, on the other hand, have to scrimp to enforce institutional control.  At the end of the day, it is the gangs dictating the tempo and in some penal establishments, prison administration merely serves as on-looker on how correctional facilities are governed.

*****

Gangs have a tendency to buy officers to sustain their operations.  Officers who are at the forefront have choices to make.  Accepting grease money means a smooth performance, no untoward molestation, less stressful and a hassle free exposure in the prison camp.  But of course, this is unacceptable and defies the principle of integrity in public service.  On the other side of the coin, ignoring or declining the offer would mean that gangs are left to contract a hired hit man or a professional complainant to scandalize the officer in media using the money previously dangled.  In which case, the officer faced and mired in controversy, will have no choice but seek refuge elsewhere.  Either he must resign out of embarrassment or blame himself until depression maims him.  These are but a few of the hazards and challenges of his profession.

*****

Working in prison is a demanding exercise.  Prison means control.  Prison workers must control and provide an air of discipline in a highly totalitarian regime of the prison community.  They must read the behavior of the inmates and the community as a whole.  Like weathermen, officers must know that there is a lull before a storm.  An unusual silent prison environment means a high probability that violence is to erupt.  We speak here of a situation where the prison community is not filled to the brim.  A congested facility however is a perfect mixture of trouble.  Only a single fuse, like a spat, could trigger carnage.  Only a few could survive prison service and usually, these are the people who can think ahead and anticipate the collective requirements of the incarcerated humanity.  The demand is on one’s mind indeed.

*****

 

 

%d bloggers like this: