CELEBRITY DETAINEES: REVISITED
Forget disparity or unjust, nay, unequal treatment, every celebrity carries a justified consideration why they should be treated differently from the rest of the great unwashed. A detention officer may explain to high heavens and describe his cold neutrality on handling celebrity detainees but this will never hold water at all. He may even feign strictness and being stern, of being severe and unsympathetic; the detainee may even submit every complaint in the book, but looking closely where these celebrity inmates are situated would reveal the actual score.
We have former President, currently Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada while he was awaiting court verdict was safely detained in his own Tanay rest house. One can even declare that half of the police elite forces were keeping Estrada in custody and on 24/7 watch, the fact that he was in a favorable, far from despicable jail environment, condition speaks a lot. He was in this vacation house until he was convicted and for day before he would be transferred to the penitentiary, he would be pardoned.
And then we have former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on hospital arrest after the court has found probable cause for charges of plunder. She is presently staying in a 50K a day lone presidential suite in St. Luke’s Hospital. She may be experiencing every ailment in the book and closely guarded by a plethora of armed police group but one cannot ignore where she is holding court during the period of her detention.
Not to be outdone, there is alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles safely detained in a special bungalow within the police camp which formerly was used as holding center for those charged with national security—the likes of former Governor Nur Misuary, former President Joseph Estrada, etc. How Napoles became a national figure defies estimation. The fact that she became a billionaire for scammed transactions may partially give the answer. Not billionaire in quotes.
A few rainfalls ago, two Senators (Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada) surrendered to authorities in lieu of the arrest warrant issued by Sandiganbayan for the charge of Plunder, an unbailable offense. They were decently whisked into the PNP Custodial Center where the court order specified as their detention area. Senator Revilla after a day of detention immediately complained on the condition of the facility that it was infested with cockroaches and rats. A week later, with Senator Estrada as fellow detainee, they found the groove and adjusted accordingly. Days after however, the circus like atmosphere which predicated the presence of Senators literally rocked the stability of the jail community. Its warden was criticized and even fellow detainees (PNP officers charged in Atimonan massacre including NPA stalwarts) were up in arms seeking intervention for the senators to be transferred to another facility. Meanwhile, fellow Senator Enrile seems to receive a fair and considerate treatment from authorities with respect to the site where he would be detained in consonance with his advanced age and weak physical condition.
On the other side of custodial responsibility, there are other infamous cases where its alleged malefactors are situated. There is the Ampatuan case where the former ARMM governor and his kin, all politicians including a bucket full of co-accused remain under lock up in Bicutan District jail. They were joined lately by those charged with rebellion from the failed Misuari led siege of Zamboanga City. The jail where before it was teeming with street urchins turned snatchers and social scums has virtually transformed into an overcrowded house of discontented suspects with myopic if not distorted ideological and hostile world view.
Suddenly, that part of criminal justice system, the courts and corrections pillar found themselves at the vortex of public scrutiny.