Monthly Archives: September 2013

MANAGING A CONGESTED PRISON FACILITY

prison

Fact:  New Bilibid Prison maximum security camp was built in the 1940s and could ideally house an accommodation level for 5,000 prisoners—7,000 at the most as peak.  To date, it is a confinement facility of 13,000 inmates—an almost 130 percent congestion rate from the ideal base.

 

Additional Fact:  Confined in this 9 hectare facility are those who were sentenced to more than 20 years up to Life Imprisonment.  Lifers constitute almost 70% of the prison population in the entire camp.  When death penalty has not been abolished yet, the area was better known as a camp where a dormitory was devoted as Death Row.

 

Cases of those classified to serve time in this compound range from Kidnapping to Robbery with Homicide, Murder to Plunder, Violation of Drug Laws to Rape.  Detested acts, which are defined in the Revised Penal Code and related special laws, would find flesh and blood inside the four walls.

 

With the kind of characters, background and type of offenses that denizens have presumed to exude; the facility could easily earn the title as the most fearsome if not the most dangerous corner of our society.

 

How to sustain and preserve peace in this kind of environment even for a day is already considered a miraculous act.  Here is a situation when abnormality must rule the day.  When exemption from the tenet of good housekeeping could rule the day.

 

Having a peaceful period in the crowd considered by law as predatory is almost an impossible situation.  For how can one consider as normal a peaceful situation in a place filled to the brim.  To think of harmony in this blight spot is already wishful thinking.

 

But miracles do happen.  For the last few years, this camp, the maximum wing of the National Penitentiary seldom would hear of violence of great proportion.  Riots, which were normal occurrence before has never visited a curve in the facility.  Peace reign and serenity at nighttime is becoming ordinary.

 

There were pockets of troubles every now and then but the frequency is greater in the market place or some streets in the free community than in this exclusive enclave.  Indeed, the prison facility is house to killers and pillagers; and, no one can claim a better killer or pillager than anybody inside.

 

Peace and harmony can be obtained even the most forsaken place but there is so much compromise to be offered.  Like an emergency patient facing an extreme medical condition, abnormal dosages are administered and other out of the box approaches dispensed with to save the patient from fatal end.  In a terribly congested facility like those in other countries, the same tactic can also be employed.

 

In Philippine prison settings, allowing entry of appliance, while a no-no, at times are resorted to in reducing the tension brought about by overcrowding.  Loud blaring sounds, normally a very disturbing condition in the free community, are an accepted intervention medium that drowns collective emotional difficulties.  Entry of visitors, mostly family members conditions peace and public safety.  One is reminded that crimes are mostly performed as a dedicated act in the name of love for family.  One kills to protect his family.  One robs to improve family life.  Having all these around normalizes an abnormal condition.

 

***

Again in the on-going investigation of the PDAF scam:  What was pocketed by corrupt government officials intended to benefit the greater masses, could have been dedicated to the exploration of oil—which could have lowered the cost of commodities.  It could have modernized the armed forces of the country, improved the criminal justice administration, from an increased professional support to law enforcement, prosecution, courts and correction.  Sent all children to school, treated all patients in hospitals and sustained all commercial activities from manufacturing to production.

 

The country could have leveled with Singapore if not Japan.

 

This could have been done using those funds, which were lost to corruption in the past 10 years.  No matter how jubilant government is in projecting a robust economy, if government officials would corner these resources, the people would remain poor and in the state of penury forever.

 

The prison community welcomes these corrupt elements for an absolute cleansing process.

 

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CRIME VS CRIME

protest

A person is penalized for abusing his freedom by committing acts inimical to public safety, commerce, peace and public safety.  His rights curtailed and he is made to suffer the pain of segregation for years until such time that he laments and realizes that the crime he committed does not commiserate with what he has to undergo in the process.

But there is a catch.  He must suffer from the separation with the free society but not suffer during separation.  In detention centers, in jails and prisons, the person is met in a karmic fashion the same crime he committed against society, this time however is committed against himself.  If this does not make him perish, it would surely make him more blatant, wiser, stronger if he passes through once he rejoins the mainstream after a period of reinforced learning in the art of impunity.

It is not surprising to note that once a person has undergone a period in a corrective facility, he becomes more intense, more determined, more hostile and more barbaric.  Check on the records of those who have committed heinous crimes.  They have undergone additional courses while serving time in the course of their varied exposures.

My point is not so much on how to deal with crime in the law enforcement fashion but to analyze how those who went through crime are eventually exposed to a condition that is akin to a state of criminality.  An environment of depravity, of want, of hostility, of distrust, of coercion, of instability, of disrespect carries everything that breeds crime.  This is precisely what a detention facility is all about.  It is a place where criminals are immersed, a place, which is also a ground for abuse, maltreatment and exploitation.  This is one insight which prison administrators should take note.

*****

There was this school of thought that would explain why the country despite its registered and recorded high economic marks from global banks has never translated said better grade into a better quality of life for its people.  The economic graces it has attained have not cascaded down to grassroots.  Ask anyone on the street if life has become better for them and the response would be in the negative.

That which should have reduced poverty which has already achieved criminal proportion instead of flowing down on the masses got stuck inside the pockets of government officials (read:  Congressmen and Senators) if what is there in the news on the PDAF controversy will be believed.

What is even more pitiful are those languishing in jails and prisons for committing thievery of paultry sums and those leading the good life despite the thievery they have committed in billions and more.  Something is wrong somewhere and hopefully, this would be remedied.

At times, rebels could not be blamed if in the course of submitting reforms they are themselves sent to the reformatories.

There should be some changes to elevate humanity to where it should be.

WHY ONE SHOULD NOT WORK IN PRISON

prison job

Several times I had an occasion to inquire why newly employed prison personnel wanted to take their leave of absence and work for their transfer from main office to the prison facility near their neighbourhood in the province where they came from.  Accordingly, they merely wanted to be close to their family, to render succour to their loved ones since they are already gainfully employed.  Further on, their presence could likewise attend to their ailing grandparents and sustain their measly economic posture.

 

Torn between recommending favourably and otherwise, I sat back and contemplated on the matter.  I have to take up individually every request.  For instance, here is one government employee, quite accomplished, having entered the service just recently and here is the same fellow finally realising his dream of saving his family from penury and pains of struggle.  But is this what government employment really means for him?  Or, is this what government service is now?

 

Is this the person who will tread the path of challenges, eluding temptations, standing pat on ethical values, pursuing sacrifice to the hilt, discarding any pretensions at comfort to lead a principled public service?  Can he maintain a distance or at least an objective position if someone from those he is escorting would offer, submit a tempting offer, something that would instantly resolve his present economic predicament, say an instant fund to sustain his child’s schooling or buy a month supply of maintenance medicine for his parent or probably procure construction materials to fix a broken roof?

 

Where is the idealism I met sometime ago when as a freshman in government service, I was sworn into with thoughts of semi-ideological fervor, at times bordering on fundamental spiritual fanaticism to work in government and lay even one’s life in the process.  I could even remember my mother chastising me for giving up my salary on prisoners’ families who would venture to seek my assistance.  That was for a short period of time though, but which I reconsidered disposing my pay when my mother stopped giving me my allowance already.

 

I, along with a handful of friends in the prison service that time, would have to drop the luxury of loafing, of spending time in some places, of seeking adventures away  from our workplaces.  In the prison service, I have to stay where assigned, study the field of humanities, review psychology and dedicate my mind to social services.  Our commitment to the prison organisation is such that it could already equate in intensity with that of a soldier laying his life in the battlefield all for the glory of his country.  That was my pledge and it never occur to me that prison service is a passport to help my family, buy medicine for my loved ones and even a way to fix a leaking roof.

 

Times have changed.  There is no semblance of idealism among the crop of  new employees save for a handful.  In past, a prison worker without shame, without  compunction, without a principled work ethic was exemption.  Today, unfortunately and I hope I was just fidgeting on things past; the idealist has become an exemption.

 

There are a number of danger curves in prison, blind corners if you may.  There are a number of personalities with dangerous ideas and rebellious streaks.  There are numerous persons with pure predatory inclinations too.  There are also people who are awash with cash and resources which can be used to procure loyalty and engage anyone to do their bidding.  There are instances when one can even use authority to impose one’s will on another.  These are but a few temptations that a prison worker must have to subdue, if not overcome, every time he is immersed in the prison community.

 

I am just wondering what this freshman prison worker would do if he is offered something for his needy family.  His loyalty to the organisation by way of his pay-check is measly compared with the offer.  Will he acquiesce?

 

That has been a very disturbing issue, which I could not get away from.

MY DEAR CHILDREN

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In a few summers, I will just be a wisp of a memory, a chip of thought, a flash of reminiscence, a strand of supposition, a fragment of common scene.  That is right, I will no longer be around to respond, react and even make counter moves to make an inviting stimulation with some usual amusing retort.  That is a reality, a matter of fact, which everyone in the world, in this planet, in this life must have to confront and well, accept as a matter of course.

I would be a part of a backdrop of thoughts if perchance my name would be mentioned or something that would pertain an issue where I once was a figure of influence.  I have been through so much already, adventures, misadventures, exploits and escapades.  I have learned some lessons, I have failed in some respects.  But all through out, it is something, which I would rather keep than share, something I would rather forget than be reminded of.  These are mundane, trivial and petty matters which I would rather my kids to undergo too.  It is enriching and quite entertaining.

This is not a piece of note to bid you goodbye, neither a testament indicating flight to life hereafter.  While I have friends, allies, followers and relations who have crossed over, I really have no time yet to follow suit.  I would rather write everything I have committed in my memory, from readings and interaction, from exposures and immersion, from failures to triumphs, from sadness to joy.  Although almost every idea has already been expressed, almost everything brilliant has been discussed and some inanities explored, there are still some matters which may still merit interest.

This of course falls under the concept of individuality.  We may somehow be stereotyped as conventional or otherwise, or perhaps relatively speaking different from the rest.  Whatever.  My point is that somehow you may give me a space in your mind or a small corner in your heart where I was once an occupant of and from there on your life as you move on you would refer to it once in a while.

Simply put, if you need to win, just be ahead of others.  That means, don’t ever answer anything, just ask the first question.  From there, you can pick it up.  (Example, someone asked you where you are going.  Instead of answering, you ask the question first, what time it is.  That way, you are the one dictating the tempo for the day.)  Furthermore, you are not only a winner but your day is even complete.

If you want to have money, ask not from anyone living around you.  Ask it from anyone of those (a relative, friend or a close associate) who passed away.  And this is critical after the exercise—-forget that you have done that.

You want to be healthy?  That is also the way to be wealthy.  Remember the adage, health is wealth?  Now, here is the secret of centenarians.  Eat to defeat hunger only and never eat to be filled.

I have just shared three important things I considered would help you traverse time.  The way to win, the manner to earn and the process of longevity of life.  Don’t forget me, lest you might forget what I have just confided.  Or, and this is quite adventuresome, forget me but you must have to start all over again.

It’s your game from hereon.

Take care of yourself always.

PRISONERS AS FAMILY, AS FRIEND

gandhi

The criminal justice system must be applied in a cold, neutral and objective manner.  It cannot be otherwise or the system would loose its meaning.  It must pass muster from law enforcement to prosecution, from the courts through corrections, until eventually towards community.  That is how it should work.

 

Considering the fact that of all imperatives of criminal justice, it is in corrections where a convict stays and spends a considerable period of time, a different projection is therefore to be applied.  From a cold, neutral and objective way, corrections must exude a different persona, a relatively contrasting persona from that of the system.  The prison community must perceive their authorities not from the prism of hostility but rather from the point of fair alliance.  That is to say that prisoners must realize that their custodians as parent, as friend, as confidant.

 

There is no other way unless one intends to breach the principles of human rights and transgress every effort to make prison life a humane community.

 

Corrections adheres to safekeeping and rehabilitation of offenders.  The only way through this mandate to be applied is through the heart and mind.  It may be off tangent with what has been its traditional past, its recent behavioral relations but working on the welfare of the prison community does not sit well with imposing tortures and harassments.

 

Offenders have violated the norms of society.  They have disturbed the peace and desecrated public safety.  Their notoriety equates disenfranchisement with social life.  As a result, they should bear the brunt of segregation and enforced lamentation in a small space called prison.  If at all they are beyond redemption, the State could have unplugged all hopes and should have pulled the lever of extermination.  But it cannot.  The criminal justice administration has as yet to fulfill the apex of justice, the true determination of truth.  As it were, there are a number of acquittal in prison, this for a period after review of (some even would take place over) 10 years!

 

Name every person of substance, any hero even any spiritual leader, be they event makers or event made.  Name any one who has achieved greatness and significance.  All of them have something in common—they were all imprisoned once upon a time.

 

The guilty and innocents are within the enclave devoted to incarceration.  Like the free community they are there co existing, partaking of life in a restricted and limited manner.  Prison could only offer so much.  But there is one area, which can level this up and promote justice in the real sense—the correctional orientation of its officers.

 

They should believe that their role is crucial in the mandate of rehabilitation, in the course of behavioral reformation.  From their ranks should emanate the principle of brotherhood, of concern as in family ties and commitment in the pursuit of friendship.  Such persuasive projection to the prison community could lead eventually to a change of perception, from hostility to cooperation, from treachery to collaboration.  Such is the essence of reform, the lifeblood of rehabilitation, the soul of corrections.

NEW BILIBID PRISON RESERVATION: Security Revisited

 

nbp reservation

 

Sometime in 2009, the national government through an executive order directed the partition of 50 hectares from the remaining 300 hectare estate exclusively reserved for the use of the Bureau of Corrections since 1935 in favor of HUDCC housing and relocation program for those required to vacate shanties along the railroad tracks, the so called “home-along the riles residents.”

 

Some two hundred families were awarded a housing unit each in said patch of property along the periphery of the NBP prison reservation.  Earlier, through a DOJ resolution a 100 hectare parcel of estate was spliced on the northwest side of NBP prison reservation in favor of DOJ personnel for their housing requirements.  All these housing projects came to be known as the NHA Housing Site (for the marginalized families formerly living along railroad tracks) on the southwest plank of the prison reservation and on the opposite perpendicular area, the DOJ Katarungan Village 1 and 2.

 

The NHA Housing project opened the prison reservation area through an access road leading to San Pedro, Laguna on the eastern side and to Las Pinas and Cavite on the western side through the Daan Hari road.  The Katarungan village on the other hand, likewise opened the prison reservation through an access road leading to Daang Hari road which leads either to Cavite or Alabang.  Both housing projects virtually tore up the main access road previously an exclusive and restricted road network of the NBP prison reservation.

 

The NHA housing program, not much with Katarungan village (composed of professionals and officers of DOJ offices) would provide a clear and present danger to the prison reservation (where the main penitentiary and housing for prison personnel are situated).  Almost daily, prison personnel would hale a number of youthful delinquents preying on their quarters, would trespass dwelling and pack sack full of equipment and valuable properties.  Since the kids are minors, they would be released as a few hours of questioning.  These are children coming from the NHA housing community.  Most of those in the NHA housing site are unemployed and would find the prison reservation an enriching ground to loaf and scout around.  Enterprising residents of this area would likewise mount itinerant tents near prison facility for vending wares and other street foods.

 

For a time, until all minimum security prisoners were restricted in an enclosed zone, these NHA housing denizens would tempt, encourage and fraternize with prisoners until cases of escapes would be attributed to such interactions.

 

With the presence of these two major housing units, NBP prison reservation became vulnerable to civilian pedestrians, residents, visitors and even motorists who wanted to short cut their trips from Muntinlupa poblacion to Alabang or Cavite.  Such route rendered the prison reservation including prison personnel quarters (officer residential zone) and minimum security prisoners maintaining the group before receiving discharged papers exposed and susceptible to the elements.

 

DOJ Fact Finding Board which investigated the so called Leviste Caper observed and noted that NBP prison reservation has a lot of road links passing through entrance and exit without restricted security measures.  Restoring strict security measures on entrance and exits points of the prison reservation, on this score however, would render gross inconvenience on housing sites which utilizes the prison reservation road as their common road network leading to their areas.

 

A plan to construct a perimeter barrier or hedge that would enclose and secure the prison reservation is in the works.  This infrastructure would cover the radius for the 250 hectare reservation and would reintroduce a new road link that would re-route traffic for the housing site on the one hand and prison reservation on the other hand.

 

Meanwhile, the NBP Prison reservation remains dichotomized into two major planks divided and dissected by a major road commonly and almost universally utilized as regular road for ingress and egress of civilian housing and residential communities in the area.  Imposing security on these lanes is a composite concern which local government of Muntinlupa must address including the re-routing of motorists and pedestrians.  Bucor administration is left with no other choice but pursue its plan for the construction of a perimeter fence around its prison reservation.

SUSTAINING PEACE IN A CONGESTED PRISON REQUIRES OUT OF THE BOX SOLUTION

congestion

Textbook solution is good if we have an ideal or standard condition in penal camps.  But when this ideal is breached, when standards could no longer be attained, the only solution could only be through the so called out of the box thinking.

I was conducting my rounds in the prison one evening when I noticed a group of inmates huddled in every corner of the dormitories.  In my mind, this could spell some kind of an unusual congress.  When I approached the milling crowd, I was gladdened that all of the inmates were all glued in one spot, focused and appreciating a commercial in front of a relatively large TV screen.

Suddenly I realized that without this technological medium, this group of inmates could have been discussing how to blow up the perimeter fence, how to hostage prison personnel, their own kind, their visitors and even prison volunteers.  For those who are less aggressive, may have taken the floors as their target and may have concocted a way to dig a tunnel.

To be entertained could only be the solution to an overarching problem of congestion albeit temporarily though.  It can halt any outward aggression.  It can deaden the nerve for depression or depressive feats.  It could also freeze any untoward event.  Any situation that calls for entertainment for that matter solves any unfortunate situation that could lead to fatal ends.

Prison is a vast community where idleness is the order of the day.  Should an inmate is compelled to work (and he can easily submit that he was coerced for doing so), you are already treading the deadly path towards violating the anti torture laws.  Yet prisoners are judicially required to serve time as punishment.  To serve time means to work, to be compelled to work and in the process, and after a prescribed period, to complete the sentence.  But this should be conducted in a scientific, if not a methodical fashion.

Prisoners try to reinvent every instance to fill their days.  They gamble a lot to forget their past.  (Two cups of coffee on the table are enough to give a group an entertaining medium.  Which of the two cups would a fruit fly try to land on.  Bets are placed already on each cup and presto, a gambling table has materialised already.  But this medium serves more violence than entertainment though.)

Prisoners abhor contemplation for fear that it might snatch their sanity in the long run.  They pray a lot however whenever depression creeps in for heavenly intervention and in the process reinvents the deities for harmonious sleep.  They try to entertain themselves through exchanges of notes and experiences, but flashbacks could only result in frustrations and blameworthy dispositions.  They would rather move on than step back.

In Brazil, where facilities are packed with 5,000 inmates, there is always a daily occurrence of violence to be managed.  Almost on a regular basis, officers were changed and administration reorganized because of the viciousness of compact living.  Congestion could only lead to an explosive and fierce response from an inhumanely lumped humanity.  Forget maltreatment, forget inhumane living condition, forget decency, integrity and respect, congestion is the only blasting cap needed to explode a prison facility.

That is 5,000 inmates in Latin American setting.  In the National Penitentiary of the Philippines, this number is almost multiplied threefold (13,000 inmates to be exact)  and there is relative peace and order obtaining down the ranks of the prison community.  After a day of normal and peaceful situation, I would even attribute it to a miracle, although I would also point it to the pesky TV sets and other comfortable mattresses and electric fans that go with it.

Forget the textbook approach and rely more on out of the box solution if one intends to preserve sanity in an otherwise insane prison condition.

LETTER TO A PRISON VOLUNTEER

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Hello Chris, greetings!  I took note of your impressions and those adjustments you must be conducting and I know how it feels on that which brings frustrations on our programs in the prison camp.  Let me confide something.  The prison community is never that place where we can repose our dreams.  Any portion of the prison camp does not even qualify as a spot prepared for redemption—from an outsider’s point of view.

When I was a rookie in the prison service and tried to establish rapport with the prisoners, all looking repentant, some confidently innocent, I was aghast to find out from their confessions that they were serving time in prison for a crime they have never committed!  That most of those inmates I came to know during my rounds were innocents—-can you imagine that— like newborns.  I thought of packing all of them and bring them all to the free community where ideally they should belong, judicially accepted or not.

That was my plan until I realized that I was not dealing with a handful but the entire prison community after all!  Either I was taken for a ride at that period of my immersion or some bolts in my brain got rusted.

Anyway, if you intend to promote something in prison, be prepared to be fluid.  To be malleable.  To be cold and neutral.  There are a lot of surprises, changes and unexpected twists.  One day the fellow who ardently follows you like a son may be released and in his excitement would forget even to say goodbye to his friends, cell mate or even such close associates like us.  Or perhaps, the fellow would succumb to an ailment and fade away under his bed bunk, no body knows except insects and flies, and later the authorities.  Or they may opt to be transferred, personally working on it, even paying clerks in offices just to elude someone they have crossed and make it appear that they  were being pushed away against their will.

There are a number of instances when a crusading spirit would agonize to find the program he organized a day before become a carcass the next day.  Even prison officers could not muster enough intellectual power to understand the sudden transformations every incident happening in an otherwise drab, monotonous, colorless and repetitive environment like prison.  While from a distance, the view is simple that even a child could draw it without sweat, it is however not what it seems once we ran into the details.

My dear friend Chris, don’t get me wrong.  I am all for your project, I am all for your efforts and sacrifices.  But let me whisper this to you:  Prison is a grand illusion.  What you see are pure shadows.  There are no real objects except the very officers you are sworn to dislike.  Every movement of prisoners is aimed to deceive even their gods.  There is no such thing as sanity, order and stability.  Everything is in shambles wrapped in institutionally formatted directives.  A human being is never designed without freedom.

Prisoners however must try to act in a manner that should bespeak humanity although in reality they are restricted to act like one.  There is therefore a constant struggle between the man in an artificial environment and the man in his element.  Should we get into their way, we are bound to get confusion not knowing where we stand in such a situation.

And then we become frustrated.  And such a feeling becomes food for prisoners looking for emotional substance.  They subsist on the dissatisfaction of others having lived and constantly living in an air of disappointment.  Having felt this, we become the lifeblood of the prison community.  We have sustained that mindset, that terrible worldview that prison is here to stay and that freedom is illusory, a pie in the sky, something to be wished for.

I say, go on with your crusade; proceed with what you have started.  Even if it means you have to crawl back to the first stage.  Disregard the changes that keep on turning around, follow every dictate of your environment.  You have chosen prison as your workplace, then live under the regime of instability.  The discipline that serves to guide your steps are not actually the same discipline you have learned in school.  It is the discipline of inaccuracy.  The kind of discipline where respect is eked out from every move covered with numerous disrespectful beginnings.

And should you persist in your crusade, count me in.  I have been in this business for a long time, a span which took my government to replace three Constitutions already and still I am actively in the midst of the prison community, mind still intact, principles still in place and humanity undiminished in the face of all the inhumanities I encounter in the prison service.  The trick, I learned eventually and which prisoners must subscribe too, is to accept reality as it is presented.

Regards and best wishes.

THE ARTIST AS PRISON VOLUNTEER

chris woolcock

Of course we have heard a lot about artist as prisoner, they are shoo in in that environment.  As a matter of fact, it seems like prison is the only place for him.  That way, he would be left to commune with nature, with everything associated with creativity.  With no one to bother or badger him except his fellow denizens who are like him wanting to be alone even if in a crowd.

 

I have heard of religious persons wanting to indulge in prayerful tasks, visiting, feeding and assisting prisoners.  For them, those serving time in correctional facilities are considered the least and lost, even if in reality, it is their victims who are really those who became least and lost in the process.

 

I have also heard of people from the academe who would rather spend their time and resources reaching out to promote education in the prison community.  Whether it is expressed through willingness to serve by way of heroism or conducted with research as the bottom line, most correctional programs are actually pursued with zest and professionalism.

 

And of course, some professionals like doctors, dentists, nurses, scientists would dip their noses in the prison affairs not only to further their fields and experience, not only to broaden their scientific immersion and medical skills but also to test their acumen and patience in dealing with the most dangerous sector of our society.

 

But the most uncommon, nay atypical, or the most rare is to find an artist rubbing elbows with prisoners.  I mean not the ordinary artist one finds in street corners haggling on handicrafts but the accomplished pedantic one.  While there are a dozen entrepreneurial types, there are a few, if not a rarity of those who would spend time in arts in prison unless the person is serving time.

 

But of course, there is always an exemption.  There is one Chris Woolcock, an Australian toymaker, a real, genuine, artist in the mold of the authentic type, the closest one gets to a Rodin or Guillermo Tolentino, all great artists.  Chris went to visit the Philippines, got enamored of the tropical environment and in one crazy afternoon joined a group of locals on a visitation crusade in the National Penitentiary.

 

Never in the to-do list of the Australian toymaker that such a penitential visit would create in him that fixation to fulfill his art dream.  Not in the comfort of his native Australia where he has a full shop with techie machineries and tools, but in some dingy corners of the correctional facility where crude tools are more resorted too than wishing for polished kits.  He got stuck in prisons, would frequent his fledging training school cum blind alley and would refer to his prisoner enrollees as “my boys.”

 

Chris is definitely an old man but he never look like one.  His art crusade must have transformed the senior citizen into an active sportsman of a bachelor.  His wife in the great continent never understood the inspiration of artists abandoned him for good, a gesture which Chris welcomed like a blessing.  Real artists are free spirits and are never restricted.  Family life for them is sometimes considered a curse.  In return, his family also sees him also as a pest.

 

And so, Chris the artist, the toymaker, the Peter Pan of art world, never had a bad hair day whenever teaching the craft to prisoners.  He would trek the bureaucratic layer of prison security, a procedure stiffer than climbing the base of Mt. Everest, negotiate with a number of check points from the entry gate to sub-gates leading into the innards of the prison community, reaching up to the corner where he finally had organized a small nook for artists or fledging ones attentive to his craft.  And he would be there on a regular basis.

 

And so Art, that simple movement, not the commercial one but the hobby found itself in the prison community and for as long as Chris the itinerant genius hovers around, that little nook may someday become a mecca of creativity and eventually the symbol of what ingenuity really means.

TRICKS IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE ADMINISTRATION

 

just tiis

When an agency is tasked to run after a crook, it better brace itself for good.  There are a lot of legal “landmines”, or technical maneuvers,  which could jolt anyone treading through into an explosive situation, blowing up into smithereens anybody caught into it.

 

In a simple case of search down in prison, a prison administrator once directed an officer to conduct an instant raid on a suspected drug lair in the prison camp.  True enough, contrabands were seized and suspects investigated.  What came out of the investigation however proved fatal to the raider.  The suspect claimed that it was the raider who was supplying the contraband all along and that failure to remit the sales rendered the suspect vulnerable to searchers and eventually to filing of charges.  The statement of the suspect was submitted and as a result, counter charges were filed and the prison leader has to reckon and unfortunately order for the dismissal from the service of his subordinate.

 

NBI was similarly situated.  It was tasked to run after big time syndicates.  It was directed to go after crooks.  Of course, there also bad players in the team, it is always given anyway.  It is how the team works that matter no matter how some bad players would spoil some plays.  Even if NBI tries to project a la FBI stance (although FBI gets its manpower from the top 10 of law schools in USA), there will always be some shades of pitfalls along the way.  It is given but the mission is always fulfilled at the end of the day.

 

In the Napoles case, NBI was lead agency.  It deployed twelve tracking team to bag their celebrity prey.  The world is watching.  Presidential attention was even compelled to be agitate, resulting in the issuance of a 10 Million peso bounty.  A few minutes later, Napoles with her lawyer surfaced.  They went to the Palace to surrender to the President bearing the note that they are up against their NBI tormentors.

 

Some really are gifted or better, smarter than the others.  The NBI prey proves to be smarter than their previous targets.  At the end of the “catch me if you can” episode, it was NBI which is about to fold up.  While suspect Napoles is getting every concession she seeks,—a good detention facility, an air conditioning unit and recently, a possibility for a maid as errand, the NBI on the other hand is disintegrating.

 

The world indeed is full of trickery as the poem Desiderata would point out.

 

Suddenly, PNP rose up to the occasion.  In an instant, it became the protective agency sought for.  PNP became the sanctuary of Napoles, the threatened fugitive from justice turned victim and viewed at times as state witness.  PNP will blanket the accused with its mantle of fortification.  Sometime ago, some PNP elements were found to have bungled on their prey.  On two occasions, suspects were summarily exterminated along with innocent bystanders.  PNP for a time was never called to be consulted but rather to be conducted in an assault.

 

The make over was fast.  PNP has become the lead agency for safety, as what really it should be in the first place.  Meanwhile, NBI was trailing, its integrity and reputation depreciating slowly.  Worst, NBI was (and still is) at the forefront of sensitive situations like the alleged Ampatuan massacre case among others.  If it continually reduce its effective representation, time will come when offenders become the bearer of revenge and the State, merely an audience of judicial tragedy.

 

Finally, the poem Desiderata concludes in the face of all these unfortunate incidents, “Let it not distract you (from trickery) from a virtue therein, for the world is also full of heroism.  Be gentle.  Strive to be happy.”

 

 

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