A PROMISE TO AN OUTGOING PRISON LEADER
I promised to write something good about the administration of Retired General Franklin Bucayu, former Director of Corrections, reflective of his accomplishments at the helm of the prison service; although initially I find it a bit perplexing to do that. He claimed that as a prison administrator, he made all the right moves and had accumulated quite a number of successful programs. He was correct. I know because I happen to be one among his closest staff officers.
But in a game of Chess, if one is moving the correct pieces and almost triumphant, the winning player would just be grinning in his corner. The winning player will never raise his hand to surrender at all. Director Bucayu did not do that but chose to resign.
In the recent NBA campaign, there was a slogan “Win or Go Home.” In the case at bar, it seems like the slogan was rephrased as “Win AND Go Home.”
Indeed, General Bucayu’s major accomplishments could over shadow his predecessors and his achievements could hold a candle to better prison administrators in the past. And why not? It was under his administration that two major laws (RA 10575 and RA 10592) on Corrections were approved. These laws alone could have spelled the great difference institutionally and historically. No prison administration has been given the rare chance to organize and modernize itself with laws supporting its infrastructure. Past prison leaders could only reformulate ageing prison rules and develop provisions which have yet to be approved by DOJ.
Director Bucayu’s regime had all the hallmarks of attaining what could have been a wish fulfillment by all prison administrators before him. He had newly minted laws to flex his administrative and operative muscles. Although these legislative pieces were contemplated and formulated before his appointment at the helm of the premiere corrective agency, its passage was at his time, its implementation within the timeline of his term.
The significance of the laws could have professionalized the organization with better pay. The other law could have addressed the painful realities of congestion. These laws could have brought Corrections to its golden age. Furthermore, the constructions of bigger prison facilities have been given the green lights to be pursued by National Government. Director Bucayu however never had the chance to see the light of this development by bidding the organization good bye.
He should be succeeding through administrative lines but he still believes that there must be concrete changes in the prison community operationally. For him, congestion has bred problems and excesses notwithstanding legislative intervention.
While analysts would point out that reducing the excess population by farming out inmates to penal colonies to reduce the strain and stress that breed problems like violence, VIP treatment, corruption, substance abuse, maltreatment, General Bucayu’s warrior’s orientation says that it could be nipped in the bud by focusing on personalities that paved the way for the problems. For him cleaning the prison stable would cap his career achievement in the prison service, and this he will initiate using approaches in his command with assistance from his DOJ supervisors. Besides, he inherited this problematic situation, a situation that has been endemic in the prison setting for several decades already. He wanted it changed in a jiffy. Its success would seal his prominence.
He made a plan and along with his superior led a raid that would expose what ails the system for ages and it exploded right in the midst of his territory. It created a spin in media that painted against the backdrop of his perceived weakness. Accordingly, the problem was his creation and that his administration must dearly pay. Forget the past, it was the present who should pay. And from there on, Director Bucayu found himself bashed in all corner until frustration mounted.
Like all prison administrators in the past who were not only well meaning but serious to attain a good historic attribute on their respective terms, Director Bucayu wanted to up the ante by resolving decades old challenges with one blow. The effect would be telling and gory. He would be seen not as the messiah that brought changes into the prison community but the villain who merely tried to save his skin to the detriment of his company. It was infuriating for him to have a burden like this. He never wanted to have collateral damage, more so, on those officers who made his administration effective but were summarily disgraced. There he was a picture of sadness, an officer standing alone.
For General Bucayu, there was no other way but out. It was for him the moment to unfold the curtains. The time was up.
This is a case I also promised to share as a lesson in correctional administration.