We’ve heard, well for those in their 60s but I doubt if the present generation is still familiar with titbits of historical incidents, about the policy of then President Carlos P. Garcia on “Filipino First.”
It was banner cry of Garcia administration to push the country on the road to self sufficiency by promoting Filipino made products. At that time, there was need for a nationalist consciousness to fan the flames of local production and national development. The country was then reeling from the effects of post war restoration, dependency on allied forces and reliance on something imported. There was no nationalist consciousness that could propel progress. The policy on Filipino First could arrest any intrusion of complacency that would lead the country to be consumerist and would rather push it further on the road of industrialization.
The succeeding administration however did not pursue the policy; hence Philippine society at present has never taken off from its developmental stage and worst, the country has been transformed into a vast marketplace for multi/trans national products. Every Juan, Pedro and Maria is a confirmed consumerist.
Furthermore, Philippine society even became a basket case, a receptor if you may and purchaser of anything banned and excess of production from drugs to rags. That has become the consequence of relegating to a corner what could have been a nationalist consciousness pursued through the forgotten policy of “Filipino First” by previous by past administration.
The concept of “Bucor First” came into view. It was a banner expression of Director of Corrections Franklin Jesus B. Bucayu. While it could be a fad and an acceptable battle cry since the current leadership is personally committed in its application, it may become passé once another leadership would be politically introduced later.
The expression “Bucor First” although currently held as a whim, is actually a natural result with significant implication. It came at a time when the correctional agency has been conferred recognition with the passage and approval of Republic Act 10595, otherwise known as Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013. It merely encapsulates the mode, the tenor, the temper of the times with respect to a discipline we refer to as prison service.
There was a time in the recent past when prison officers would rather be seen as law enforcers in the mould of police personnel. There was even a time when prison officers would rather project a persona similar to that of the military. Prison Guard II would respond when addressed as Sergeant or “Sarhento”, Superintendents as Colonels. So on and so forth. There was no sense of identity. Officers, personally feel, they are secondary, the least even and sometimes the lost, like prisoners.
There was even a time when graduate students in the State University would ascribe the behaviour of prison officers as “prisonized.” (There is prisonization when person would think, act and behave subserviently and with inferiority complex.) The impression was that the prison workers had taken the low road of reflecting what in its estimation could overlap their performance. They have nothing to show even if their actual duty could project a feat of almost heroic proportion. It is hard for them incomprehensible even, to realize the importance of their role in relation to the bigger picture of the criminal justice administration. After all, who wants to work in an environment that threatens not only one’s peace of mind but also challenges sanity? Who wants to work in a climate that does not augur recognition but intrigue? Who wants to work in a situation dictated by the so called scum and dregs of society? There is always danger, there is always an assault on one’s understanding of harmony, there is always confusion. If given a choice, no one would rather expose themselves in this sea of uncertainty.
But there is the prison worker, bracing himself, exposing and allowing himself to every condition obtaining in the prison community. It may not count much for him but society is confident with these workers in their respective post. They serve not only as sentries of barbed wire camps but sentinels of a vulnerable environment.
The prison worker must realize that it is their kind that provides the fulcrum of activities, it is them that are at the centre of communal hope, it is their posture that makes life bearable in the prison community. And it is also this realization that the worker, even the person under custody of law, that should appreciate, cooperate in the highest degree on the mandate of the agency. There is no other way than reckon the mission of the institution. Forget PNP. Forget AFP. Forget BJMP. Forget others.
The point of reference is this: Recognition on the part of the worker, freedom on the part of the offender. There is only one office that could make it happen. BUCOR FIRST.