A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A PRISON OFFICER
Sometime ago, I recalled receiving a visitor representing an incarcerated client. No, the fellow was not a lawyer. He was just decently dressed like a magistrate, groomed and very courteous. He exuded a professional bearing. He was, accordingly, just a close friend of an inmate and he was merely asked to seek consultation.
We had the following conversation.
“Good morning Sir. I am Mr. Alvin Patrimonio, not the basketball star, just a namesake” the visitor smilingly greeted me in my office.
“Anything Mr. Patrimonio. It says here in your visitation appointment that you wanted to be assisted on prison rules.” I qualified.
“That is right Sir. My friend was charged for violating the Dangerous Drugs Act and he is here serving time for Life Imprisonment. He asked me to offer you as his initial contribution to your various prison programs the amount of One Hundred Thousand Pesos. But please Sir, don’t get me wrong, my apologies for such a straightforward proposal, I just came in here for the proposal and nothing more. I am not sent here to negotiate on anything. I was just asked for this errand. I am clean and I am an accountant in a private firm. My friend was a former high school classmate and I met his wife during a reunion…”
“Your friend is generous. Why not go to the Church instead or to your school and send your donations there?” I asked.
“I was also nervous Sir when I was asked to approach you on this but you see, I was just trying to fulfil a role as payback. Sometime past, this classmate of mine helped me with my expenses when my father was in the hospital. I had no money then but he helped me tide over my predicament. I was looking for him for a while until I met his wife and was informed that my classmate was imprisoned. I visited him last week and was requested to do this for him. My apologies Sir.”
“ What if I decline? Accepting offers is not part of our calling. We have funds appropriated for any of our official purpose. Your friend will appreciate.”
“But Sir, pardon my audacity. I also inquired what if you reject his offer. He asked me instead to see his friends in his dormitory, his co-accused. They said that they would give the money to the lawyer they retained and the firm would just file any case against you. Or if you are a good officer, and indeed you really are, they might give it to an enterprising media man to create an intrigue against you. Or, if not, and this is chilling, they would just hire riding in tandem to scare your wits out. I am sorry Sir, but that was just relayed to me in whisper.”
“Do you know of anything or any request your friend may want to seek that they intend to send some payments for it? Something which they may want my office to facilitate? Tell your friend that I can help him even without offers provided that it is within my range. And tell those who whispered to you that I am not the owner of this place. Tell them that like them I am also a prisoner of rules here. They will surely understand.”
“My gut feeling is that the gangs are already affected by your program of recruiting their members into the fold of your activity centers. Without the members, there are no soldiers to tap. And if at all, the soldiers are conscripted to gain a productive skill, they no longer need the gangs to sustain their needs.”
“So your friend is acting in behalf of gangs to buy out my programs so that it would appear that the gangs are the ones running the show and not my administration. Is that what you feel is the reason behind the offer? Thank you for the information. And if perchance you have to see them, tell them that I do not wish to compete with gangs. I just want it to become a real brotherhood based on respect and friendship.”
“Thank you Sir, my salute. I will immediately relay your concern and instructions.”
It was a stressful but a fulfilling day for me to express my position and was contented with what I have shared by way of explanation. Furthermore, from that time on, I ordered my staff to stay in my office and listen to whatever my visitors were proposing. That way no indecent proposal will ever be conveyed.
A week later, a frivolous complaint against me was received by my superior and almost simultaneously, I was already being attacked in the news! Worst, a few days after, on his way to office, my deputy would be shot dead.