NEW BILIBID PRISON: The Real Score
A prison facility is designed to house an exact number of populations. That is the ideal. You compress more people into it, more than what the facility can chew, you choke it. In the same manner that a house is a dwelling place constructed according to the number of family members intending to use it. If the facility could no longer contain what is obtaining then it is either, the residents would decline admission or if there is no other way, a restructuring of the house or facility is in order.
New Bilibid Prison complex has an accommodation level good for 10,000 inmates. To date, it has around 22,000 prisoners already. It is already filled to the brim, so to speak. Congestion rule the day. If a simple household is experiencing such a condition, misunderstanding and a host of other confusion would arise. This would serve as the fuse that would ignite trouble. An ordinary household however can easily address this situation by declining further admission or requiring the excess number to leave pronto.
This cannot be done in prison. It cannot disregard a court order on the admission of a prisoner without the threat of contempt. If congestion is incumbent, administrators must be resourceful in addressing it. There are approaches which can still be applied—routinely or out of the box. Additional structures can still be introduced if the concerned has the necessary resources to volunteer. Or, the camp may be loosened on the entry of donation if there is dearth of capital outlay in transporting prisoners in other penal establishments or in building structures to house excessive population.
New Bilibid Prison, specially the maximum security camp, has been unfortunately neglected administratively for years. It is never intentional though neither it is premeditated. There is lack of understanding from those who were given the task of managing the affairs of the prison community and if at all there are attempts, these were diluted by stronger leadership influence yielded by some prisoners with exceptional talents and political connections. Security requirements at times collide with social and welfare demands of the prison community. Prison rules to a large extent reduce the principles of human rights. Remember that the fountainhead of human rights is freedom. Rehabilitation programs could not manifest its genuine applicability because of the ruse created by the tension of security and social strains of the prison camp.
It has been said that NBP has been transformed into a special community than a facility. It is rightly so because government has no imposing resources to control the human factor. The influx of prison admission is like urban migration in its extreme form. In a situation where there is virtually more warm bodies than stale cages, it is the human spirit that yields considerable influence over anything that restricts it. As the saying goes, “Man is not an island.” Include a number of them and lump them all up in a dingy corner, chances are, they would transform it into a paradise in no time at all. They would formulate an environment that could sustain their survival than rely on static nuances of his surroundings. They can simulate life in a commandingly dead or hopeless situation.
While the cryptic peace that is haggled may be suspect and could even inspire a host of reactionary movements by administration by disturbing the harmony of life in the prison community, the potential of its destructive posture can only be unleashed with fatal consequence. There is an idiom that says, “Don’t stir up the hornet’s nest.”
There is just one instance prisoners could not redesign their place notwithstanding their number and talents. It is in changing prison into another. A prison camp no matter how convoluted it is seen from outside or socially fitted from within is still a prison camp.
Gertrude Stein in her poem Sacred Emily wrote “a rose is a rose is a rose.” In the same vein, a prison is a prison is a prison. And that’s it.