THE DAY I TOOK OVER NEW BILIBID PRISON
New Bilibid Prison is entering a new phase of sociological evolution. It is no longer the same as it was years ago. The prison population has ballooned. The prison officers, the supervisors, have aged considerably and those at the periphery were almost in their sophomore years. The great divide could be seen organisationally and sociologically.
That’s right folks. NBP’s complexion has changed. While there were make overs on one side and some flickering changes on the other, the prison population under its sphere is evolving. As a matter of fact, it has changed already. The change is more on the profile of the prison community.
Prison administration are concerned no longer on how secure the facility but more on how to dodge the perennial effects on handling the evolving crops of gangs and influential persons from the vantage point of control. The issue on “who controls who” and what constitutes control as in “what controls what” predominates every single issue of the day.
Gone were the days when the most brutal, with strings of violent crimes tucked in one’s record before he becomes a gang leader. The bigger the sentence to be served the more qualified and awe inspiring he gets to receive the plum of gang leadership.
Then came the intellectual, the ideologue, chosen to lead the prison community for his intelligence and astuteness. They comprise the more intelligent crop would emerge coming the ranks of the so-called political prisoners. These are the intellectuals, the ideologues, and the firebrand. They easily qualify as leaders who have the capacity to deal with intelligent issues and negotiate/ bargain for privileges to prison authorities in favor of the gang they were representing.
After a brief period, the celebrity came to the fore. It did not take long when the gangs would elect one who is not only intellectually superior but also celebrated and wealthy.
Then came the rich, wealthy convicts. Gangs deferred to them not because they are to be recruited to the gang hierarchy. They are gang-less in the first place and would never kowtow to any grouping in the prison compound. But they have to live with the situation that gangs are not only a part but a fact of life in prison. They could not escape the influence of gangs. These wealthy convicts, the so called celebrity inmates would instead scout and buy out gangs. The more gang franchises, the better.
Then came the so-called super rich, those who were once a denizen in the world of the rich and famous. They were not haggled by gangs to be recruited. They came not to be conscripted. They came to buy gangs by the dozen so to speak! For a while, they lorded over the prison community, until a new batch came into view.
This sector was oftentimes ignored and would play secondary role in the spectrum of prison society. They were even made as puppets and incidental characters. They were few and rare. They were mostly foreigners. Then their numbers grew and since their penalty was longer, their quantity accumulated until they virtually become a force, a social force, to reckon with in the prison community. And this group does not appear empty handed. They are worth billions because of the trade for which they were convicted. They are the drug lords.
The drug lords may be rendered incapacitated through incarceration but the narcotic business in the free community is alive and kicking. There is even a suspicion that illegal drug business has permeated government through narco-politics. Politicians, it has been said, are sponsored and underwritten by the lucrative revenues of illegal drug trade. And these imprisoned drug lords, despite their physical absence in the free community, are still running the show through linkages.
This is the present situation of New Bilibid Prison, once a symbol of hopelessness, agony and desperation. Now it is more of a sanctuary of persons known for stealth, craftiness and ingenuity.