Monthly Archives: August 2015

WHY SPEND BILLIONS BUILDING A MEGA PRISON WHEN IT’S UNNECESSARY

MB

New Bilibid Prison, studies reveal, is so congested that there is a need to build a mega prison somewhere and transfer the inmates and solve the problem of overcrowding.  That at a glance is the main reason why government bided for the construction of a P50.8B regional PPP project.  Accordingly, New Bilibid Prison could no longer sustain the proper security management and application of rehabilitation program for around 24,000 inmates confined in a structure good for 10,000 only.

The Bureau of Corrections painstakingly said so.  The Department of Justice, in a way, concurred.

But the problem is not begging for an answer that would rip government of its hard earned tax payers’ money just to solve a problem with many solutions.  Building a mega prison costing billions is just one.  There is the much inexpensive and economical way of transferring excess prison population to penal establishments in the country side.  There is also the much practical, legal even because of RA 10592, the new Good Conduct Time Allowance recently passed, if applied would dramatically cut down overcrowding through the releases of qualified prisoners.  To a name a few.

But why think of spending so much for so simple a problem?  Why buy a big house when one can just move to other houses?  What gives?  What special consideration are those at New Bilibid Prison that they could not be moved to other organized penal establishments that there is a need to build another spanking and luxurious nay state of the art facility.  Penal establishments in the countryside cry for updating and expansion of their facilities at a cost a little fraction of the intended budget for a mega prison.  Why spend more?

A couple of years ago, the Department of Justice directed the Bureau of Corrections to formulate a plan to transfer excess prison population to other penal establishments.  DOJ furthermore required prison administration to expand, by building additional dormitories in the facilities to accommodate those to be transferred.  A budget has been appropriated accordingly and plans were afoot and made for the eventual movement scheme.  Then it stopped.

DOJ was on the right track previously when it moved towards the direction of mass transfer of prisoners to penal establishments in the countryside.  The sudden turn around stymied reason for no cause at all.

What happens next was that a proposal to build a costly mega prison became the order of the day.  It seems like a multibillion worth project is more attractive than a simple economical procedure.  It seems like the arduous and routine escorting of inmates to other penal establishments is a tiresome process that transferring en masse to another location notwithstanding prohibitive cost is more preferable.

Building a P50B+ megastructure does not stop there.  Another multi-billion peso infrastructure program must also attend to it.  A facility without roads is just a pie in the sky, a very expensive pie.  And the route is not our regular short cut to a marketplace.  It means a number of kilometers of paved roads to construct from one far out terminal to another far off one.  And what will the tax payer gets in return?  And how do we envision an approximate P100B project could solve a social problem without creating a monstrous one in the final count?

I don’t think it is wise and prudent that this project will proceed smoothly, unless of course government is oozing with resources, unless of course our economy is as prosperous as a developed country, unless of course all imperatives of the criminal justice administration have achieved a certain degree of sophistication.  Competence in managing the crucial affairs in correctional administration is still better than being spendthrift.

Besides, I don’t think DOJ, this time, would allow this sleight of hand to pass through its better judgment.  I tell you, this will never happen within the timeline of straight path governance.

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DAPECOL IN MY MIND

shrine

My first official visit, actually my first trip, to Davao Penal Colony (now Davao Prison and Penal Farm) was in the summer of 1985.  I just completed a country representation in UNAFEI, Tokyo, Japan then when a directive was issued requiring me to proceed, along with several prison officers, to check Davao Prison.  Dapecol then, even at present, was a beautiful community situated right in the middle, as a matter of fact at the heart, of a sprawling vast tract of land systematically organized as a banana farm and hardwood tree plantation.

Living in the area was like staying inside an oxygen tank!

It was indeed a very impressive place for a penal colony.

In 1994, I was assigned to administer Davao Prison and Penal Farm.    It was my first out-of-town assignment.  Accordingly, there was a problem in the facility.  A certain high profile inmate could not be controlled because the fellow had high level connections with military officials that his unchecked movements to leave the area remained a problem.  I was directed to solve the institutional problem.

Well, I did.  After a week, I reported back to central office and presented my solution.  The Director noted and directed me to return back and assumed the colony leadership.  After a year, I was again recalled by the prison leadership to take another assignment.  I was tasked to take over the administration of Iwahig Penal Colony.  My Dapecol stint was very inspiring.

In 2000, after a brief stint at Iwahig and then at San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga and New Bilibid Prison, I was again ordered to assume command of Dapecol.  It was a disheartening period at that time for the facility.  Dapecol  officers were traumatized by a bloody carnage, a brutal hostage situation where an officer died  along with several inmate hostage takers and numerous personnel injured in the process.  It was a time for healing.  And I was there to stabilize a rickety situation.  I was in the facility for one and a half years at the helm just enough to gain rapport in the community of prison officers and  build a shrine for the Lady of the Prisoners, a grotto in front of the reservation Chapel.  The Shrine was given an imprimatur by Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz, the Vicar Head of Tagum.  Thereafter, I was recalled at NBP to take care of media.

In 2007, a few hours after Dapecol’s armory was raided by insurgents, I was again called to assume command of Dapecol and resolve a crisis that bordered on a scandal which might taint the integrity of correctional security as a whole.   After a month, the correctional situation improved.  A few months later, Dapecol’s satellite sub colony was transformed into a correctional institution for women, thereby making Dapecol the only penal establishment in the country with a female ward.

For seven consecutive years, with around 7 months brief interval at New Bilibid Prison,  I held on the post and smoothly administered the area.    From that time on up until I retired, I had almost a continuous service at the helm of Dapecol.

All in all, I had around 9 years and a half exposure in the facility.  And it was a very rousing period in my term as a government functionary.

And on a personal note, I have learned to love the area as if I am from there already.  But what made me a bit awkward in claiming that it was my place is the fact that I am not conversant with the predominant dialect—Visayan.  I could not speak, much more so understand it notwithstanding the fact that I was almost a decade long resident of the area.  Two things:  either I am disinterested in learning the language or I am a language idiot.  I suspect myself on the latter side.

Aside from the fact that Dapecol is the second biggest correctional in the country (in terms of population, second to NBP; in terms of size, second to Iwahig), it has a successful  joint venture and a matured and pronounced rehabilitation program for prisoners in association with the private sector (Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation or Tadeco).  With an active program link with the private sector, Dapecol has shared a dominant contribution on the effort to push the mandate of corrections in the overall scheme of the criminal justice administration of the country.

Dapecol’s Joint Venture Program remains an excellent template for all penal establishments in the country.

In 2015, it was a personal reckoning term to bow out from the prison service.  It was a pleasant period to spend one’s youth in the correctional service.  The officers succeeding me in the organization are competent to sustain the challenges of the prison service.

It was time for me to fade away but Dapecol still remains as sharp in my memory and ever dazzling in my mind.

REMINISCING THE PAST

joel and me

The preoccupation of old people, assuming their memories are still keen and intact, is to look back at their prime.

And it surely is a very interesting, at times melancholic, to recall days of fullness and want, more so, the struggles, the adventures, in defying and challenging death like immortals and succeeding in squeezing pleasure in the end.  While others fell, while others got lost, while others simply disappeared, there are those like us who remained seemingly untouched by the rudeness and vulgarity of reality.

We were there in rough times, we were there engaging odds, we were there at the mercy of the elements.  Our common friends were also with us, some them however succumbed, some of them hemmed and hawed, some of them virtually got their just desserts, some of them faded and that probably included us in the batch.  We faded in the background.  But we simply blended with the environment, never losing our thoughts, never losing a bit in the fashion of the day.

We are still active although not in the youthful sense of the word.  We still longed to be in the limelight, well, no longer as protagonist but on cameo role only, just to show the world that we are still in the heat of things.  Not that we can no longer act, but our days at the top has declined, our days at the top has rather been bleached, our days on our way down from the top has been numbered already.

A friend of mine, Joel Villanueva, dropped by after a near death experience at the Heart Center.  He was back in harness, a true survivor.  And why not.  We got to know each other in Palawan.  I was then the prison superintendent of Iwahig Penal Colony, Joel was a daring do daredevil, an Evel Knievel motorbike race driver and also a resigned government functionary.  That was 1995—20 years ago—and we are now in front of each other to size each other up and complement the day.

Joel on his dirt bike can swiftly glide into any kind of rugged terrain in an outback of Palawan, a sight to  behold, a stunt that could stun an observer.  There was one incident where he stumbled almost fatally.  He rose up, stretched himself and dusted off just like that.  He was that great. That was before.  I learned lately that he fell, toddler like, on his bicycle while negotiating in a wide road.  All his bones were scanned and for almost a month, he was bedridden.

I could only reminisce.

We were then in our 40s, looking more like demigods and fearless, athletic and full of enthusiasm.  Now, we are in our 60s and looking more like newly recruits in the geriatric ward!

Before, our conversation was more on sexual escapades, more on virility, more on machismo.  Now, it’s more on determining which medicine suits us best!

Before, we were exchanging notes on how to charm.  Now, we are sharing ideas on how to get a good night sleep!

Before, we wanted to capture the world.  Now, we are wondering in what part of the world we will be scattered.

Before, we were excited on to find what the good life is all about.  Now, we are contented just to live.

We are thankful not because we made it in this life, but because we are still lucid despite the thrills and trauma of living.

CORRUPTION

corruption

It has been said that government service is saddled with corruption.  One spoof in an afternoon show while it bordered on amusement gave a brilliant response on the issue of corruption.  The question that was expected to be answered in a funny way goes:  “How do we stop corruption in government?” to which the joker answered that “Corruption cannot be stopped.  Better we do away instead with government!”  Of course, there was laughter.  The people knew that it was impossible to do away with government, much more so abolish it so that there will be no more avenues where corruption could pass through.

Well, it can be done by privatizing what ought to be a government-sustained activity if it is marred and plagued with corrupt underbellies.  It does not need emphasis.  There is corruption because the bottom line is for want of  efficiency.  Hence, one must have to pay so much to seek efficient service.  And efficiency is never a bedrock or quality of government service.  When one speaks of government, it spells lethargy, stupor if not laziness.

If services are handled by the private sector, expect a high degree of proficiency.

This is something culturally learned and partly oriented from the people’s belief system.  You want a grand baptism?  Pay the church more.  You want a grand wedding and exclusive?  Pay the priest more.  You want your sins forgiven?  Pay the heavens through donations to your church.

In other words, you want good service?  Pay a tip.  Or, if conducted in public service, give a bribe.  Is  this fair?  For the government worker it is.  But his political superiors do not want it that way.  Services should be given freely or else the worker is charged of corrupt practices.

But government is a political instrument and could not be expected to yield its power even if it means conceding competence.  It is the biggest employer and therefore the largest political carrot to be dangled; an advantage, the so-called equity of the incumbent, the swing vote and there are almost 2 million government functionaries all over the country.  Spoil them all and you get the vote on a silver platter.

As a consequence,  public service grinds to a slow start.  It projects authority and superiority on people it is supposed to serve.  While as lip service, government workers  declare themselves as civil servants, no way would they ever act as such if a client intends to seek service from their office.  There is an air of supremacy that is felt and one must have to bow if not bribe himself to get near and acquire attention.

How to make bureaucrats jump towards fulfilling some action?  Pay them handsomely.  That is to say, offer them so much.  This is when corruption is eventually introduced.  It is not a phenomenon actually, it is merely a reasonable reaction but expressed in unfortunate terms.

What if the person seeking immediate action does not have anything to offer by way of “corruption?”  Well, he gets nothing except a shabby treatment of being referred to one desk after another, over frown and jittery faces of clerks.  Nevertheless, he gets what he wants only after a stretch of time.

In the final reckoning, computing on the expenses the poor fellow spent through regular trips, follow ups,  meals and wasted man-hours  that could have been utilized in productive activity, the amount is staggering and could have amounted if given to a fixer or any officer for that matter.

That is one common view of corruption.  The other view is more daunting.  This entails on government fund that would not reach its designated purpose.  This is when scams get into the picture.  It is not mere ghost delivery or skimming or commissioning but plain swindling of people’s money.  Shades of plundering the coffers of government dry to the bones.

And those who succeeded in this game of plunder would still persist on the mission, unpunished as they were and with resources on hand, it could now be used to buy and convince the people to take them to higher offices.  And they get the necessary respect and adulation, if not support and assistance by their political patrons, the professionals, the church and even media.  It telegraphs the message that small time facilitations are corrupt practices but the greater and grander thievery are ignored if not overlooked.

Furthermore, as shown by public sentiments, imprisoned thieves splurging on their private loot in prison to be shared among fellow poorest of the poor is abhorred more than politicians whose thievery of government money, unshared and even deposited abroad, and yet they get the nod and appreciation of the very people whose tax money was squandered.

What a weird and corrupt world it is.

ON TAXES

tax

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of USA , was quoted to have expressed that “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  And indeed it’s true.

In this country, taxes meant a lot for the survival of government and precisely because the State wanted not only for its machinery to work pretty well, it must as a matter of course introduce basic services for the improvement of its citizen’s quality of life.  Hence, it must require, force if need be or threaten to a large extent, anything that moves to contribute to the national coffers.

Businesses are taxed.  Anything that makes money must as a rule chip in if not be squeezed out.  But taxes should only be made once.  Make it double then it exacts already a toll on the tax payer.  It is like giving something wholeheartedly to someone who needs and then being duped later by the person who was assisted.

Don’t look now but people are in this situation lately.  While almost 30%, actually its 32% to be exact,  of their income goes to government revenue, the remaining is spent on commodities slapped with Value added taxes.  A person is taxed the moment he receives his salary and he is again taxed the moment he spends what remains in his pocket.

It is the ordinary worker who is virtually tricked.  Businesses would merely pass on the taxes they pay for government to the consumers.  Hence, the private sector can declare a neat profit margin in the end.  But for the ordinary crew, his salary is ripped and what remains would likewise be ripped once he moves towards expenditures.  And,  the  person actually has no choice.  Inability to pay taxes would be a penalty to disenfranchise his employment.  If he does not want to be taxed the second time around,   he should not procure anything.  If he does, then he dies of starvation.

Philippine Star columnist Alex Magno wrote that “Filipino wage earners have to contend with a high food price regime, among the highest power costs in the world, comparatively lower wage levels and horrible traffic just to get to to work, and a government takes away a third of his income.”

A large chunk of what remains in his pocket is devoted to food.  To pay for other requisites, a person must have another job, get a loan or seek credit somewhere, pawn whatever assets he had or left without any choice, transact with the devil itself!

Our legislators should determine the proper approach in reducing the burden of the Filipino wage earner and discourage any idea on introducing additional taxes.  There were claims that the Filipinos are already overtaxed.

Much as they want to mount a tax revolt,  a large sector could not make it because of the expense factor.  They would rather suffer and bear.  It’s a teleserye life for the majority.

After all, they all deserved it by electing those they idolized in screens depicting difficulties and winning in the end.  Well, except that in real life, everyone was a loser.  Sadly, it’s the idiocy of the many and stupidity of the majority that rules.

AT THE WAKE OF A LOYAL SOLDIER

sonny o, crop

Sonny Olegario was not a foot soldier.  He was in the civilian sector of a uniformed agency and once upon a time, my immediate staff.  And like a soldier, he would prod on and pursue a battle plan based on how he intends to win for us.  No, it was not the kind of shooting warfare but more than that.  It was more on rebuilding than destroying, more on improving rather than mowing down, more about renovating rather than exterminating.

When I was designated to administer Davao Penal Colony, I chose Sonny to manage a run-down, out station of Dapecol in the central district of Davao City, almost 60 kilometers away from the main camp.  It had not seen better days for years because of irrelevance and neglect.    It had become a sore spot in the rejuvenated area, a lively commercial district just across a big mall, adjacent giant malls and business hubs.

Worst, government could not spare budget for outlay on improvements much more so the facility was far from the penal reservation and penal programs.  The area had become extraneous after it has fulfilled its previous role as a receiving station of supplies for the prison community.  Previously, the road to the penal colony was difficult to navigate hence a station to stock supplies before a common carrier could deliver it in batches.  There were improvements done on infrastructure over the years until the penal colony could easily be reached, supplies could readily be conducted without passing through the receiving station.

But the outstation was still a prison asset and needs maintenance despite its passive role.

It was during the term of Sonny that the facility got its makeover.  From a dimly lit dilapidated structure of olden wooden planks fire stormed by termites and muddy pathways, it became what today could be mistaken as a newly opened branch of a prominent bank!

And it was reconstructed merely on the basis of charms and friendly overtures only.  Sonny was at the forefront of the mission to improve the facility and he did it through his initiative.

If he was in a private firm, he would have been rewarded with a trip abroad, a trophy, an instant promotion, a recognition day in his honor, a gift checque, or all of it in one swing.  But he happened to be in government and initiative is almost a crime.  Hence, when I joined Sonny in presenting the newly renovated facility a visiting prison officer instead of tapping our shoulders whispered “how much did we gain in the contract!”

Sonny and I merely smiled.  I don’t know whether we were thinking the same way on mauling the fellow but when Sonny slowly walked away, I merely threw away a broken bottle in the trash can and left the guy.

To date, the facility is spanking edifice holding its own ground as an impeccable structure of government amidst the glowing commercial structures that have sprung out in the area.

The Dapecol Receiving Station is a testament to Sonny’s creativity and single mindedness in pursuing an almost impossible task of renovating an almost impossible to renovate facility.

Some soldiers posthumously  merit an award for valor.  In the wake of Sonny, I had this thought that the Station is in itself a memorial for his valor in government service.

A TALE OF TWO MAMA’S BOYS

PRISON WATCH

nyoy and I

Several dictionaries offered numerous, almost similar, definition of the term “mama’s boy.”

  1. “ a boy or man who is excessively influenced by or attached to his mother.”
  2. “A grown male who allows or desires his mother to control most aspects or decisions of his life for him.”
  3. “A boy or man who is considered to be overly close to his mother and often timid or overprotected.”
  4. “A grown male still dependent on his mother.”
  5. “a boy or man who is seen as weak because he is controlled or protected too much by his mother.”

Of course, in this country practically all boys are mama’s boys considering the fact that we are almost a matriarchal society much like that of Lebanon.  It has been said that the Lebanese President would not decide on a sensitive issue unless his mother is aware of it.  Well, in this country, we have as yet…

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A TALE OF TWO MAMA’S BOYS

nyoy and I

Several dictionaries offered numerous, almost similar, definition of the term “mama’s boy.”

  1. “ a boy or man who is excessively influenced by or attached to his mother.”
  2. “A grown male who allows or desires his mother to control most aspects or decisions of his life for him.”
  3. “A boy or man who is considered to be overly close to his mother and often timid or overprotected.”
  4. “A grown male still dependent on his mother.”
  5. “a boy or man who is seen as weak because he is controlled or protected too much by his mother.”

Of course, in this country practically all boys are mama’s boys considering the fact that we are almost a matriarchal society much like that of Lebanon.  It has been said that the Lebanese President would not decide on a sensitive issue unless his mother is aware of it.  Well, in this country, we have as yet to attain such consideration.

I thought of writing this piece because I am reminded of my situation and that of my son.  Both of us are mama’s boy in the strictest sense.  There were minor differences like I was the eldest, he was the youngest in the brood of three, but on the whole we were practically on the same level.   Both of us still slept beside our respective mothers even up to our intermediate years.  In my case however, mother required me to occupy the adjacent room to the master’s bedroom while my son virtually slept on our bed even beyond his 21st birthday!

I was almost pampered by my mother, my son nearly was spoiled.  My mother was still combing my hair even when I was already in high school!  My son’s mother would sing lullaby so the son could sleep well, even if the son was already in college!   Both of us virtually sought the counsel and advice of mother before harking on any activity.  Both of us practically subsist based on the constant assistance we receive from our maternal support system.  We cannot remove our sight on the permutations of her savings especially on her wallet as a matter of subsistence.

As we grew older, I pledged to impress my mother in my line of work.  My son was of the same persuasion except that he envisioned staying beside his mother up until their twilight years.  When her mother passed away, he was emotionally paralyzed.  In my case, when my mother departed I hated the world to the point of exterminating anyone who sounded offensive.  My son’s mother died of cancer, my mother died from her assailant’s knife.   Both of us felt incomplete for a period.  Both of us were almost without direction.  We just could not imagine this planet without our mother beside us.

People think that dependency on mother is being wimpy.  On the contrary, we were stronger because of her.  We were more creative and kinder.  We were more charitable and unconditional when we love.  That of course is when and what mother tells us to do.  Without mama we are left at the mercy of the elements.

There was no replacement for mother.  We may lead a cavalier’s life, exploring one relationship after another, engaging friends towards our idiosyncrasies but there was only one mother who would respect us regardless of our defects and deficiencies.  There was mother who despite our faults, despite our imperfections, despite our failures, despite disappointments, her presence alone could rectify everything.  Mother was shield, pillar, roof, everything we call home.  Without her, we are plain homeless.

Both our mothers however did not dictate on us what we would be.  In my case, mother was mum when I sought her approval for me to be some kind of a hero.  She would merely smile and scratch her head.  In the case of my son, her mother was just amused when he proposed that he wanted to be a National Artist.  Her mother would just sigh and make a sign of the cross.  Our respective mothers were our court of last resort; our inspiration; our muse and the basis of encouragement.

Truth to tell, we never had that chance to be independent.  We were at a loss when our respective mother left us.  I merely watched how father behaved and braved the world after he was widowed.  I tried the same tact when my son’s mother crossed over.  Father and I just could not substitute ourselves with motherly care.  I pity myself both as orphan and as widower.  My son too may also pity himself.

For a mama’s boy, without mother the world is stale and colorless.  It is a long drawn period of waiting until the moment would come when we would be reunited with mother in the final count.

Meanwhile, we feign contentment in a universe deprived of maternal concern.

THE DAY MY FATHER RETIRED FROM GOVERNMENT SERVICE

tay and nay crop

It was my father’s 65th birthday and it was in the mid-80s.

There was celebration and some kind of reunion for all members of the clan.  Mother was the busiest that day engaging visitors and family members as well.  It was the culmination of a lifelong career in the bureaucracy and there was father bowing out with flying colors.  It was the retirement day of my father.  It was memorable for my parents having completed their duties and responsibilities not only for their dream of reaching the apex of their professional calling but also a swan song for their children.

In the afternoon, it was a period devoted between my father and me.  I was stronger now than my father.  Years had sapped his energy and it was my time to take the reign.  From that time on I vowed not only to protect them but assist in my humble way their sustenance.

But my father, ever proud, a self made man, merely nodded.  He knew he had more years and retirement notwithstanding, he intended to proceed with his faculty role in the academe and accept more teaching loads.

I implored “Tatay, you must relax already since you have spent a great deal of time earning for our upkeep.  It is time to slow down,  pamper your garden if not persuade Nanay to see the world instead!”

My father‘s eyebrows rose and nearly screamed,   “What???!!! You mean to say I will have to spend my retirement gratuities just like that?  No way.  We will have to budget it and maintain it for purposes of emergency.  No one knows when it would happen.  We do not wish to be dependent on you in this regard.  No, we will just keep it.”

My father showed me his bank book and the first tranche of his retirement benefit printed in the amount of P110K.  He deposited it at Manila Bank.  At that time, the peso was I think 5 to a dollar.  Hence, the amount was fairly big enough.  “This will be my insurance basket just in case,” said father.

My father was a picture of confidence but not for long.

Three months later, he summoned me to our house.  “Ven, I think, you were right,”  my father lamented.    He continued, “Who would have thought and anticipated that Manila Bank, founded by Puyat family,  a prominent political family, would experience a bank holiday!  My retirement benefits were all tied in there and worst, PDIC can only give P25K as insurance backflow.  Now, here is my bank book and work to get the  f*#@king 25K and use it for whatever you could make out of it.”

There was sadness on father’s face but I tried to lighten up his day.  “Don’t worry Tay, give me 3 f*#@king months within which to recover your money.  But promise me to use it for your personal satisfaction.”    Tatay knew that I was only trying to prep him up but obliged by giving me a snappy salute.

I went to the bank and filled up forms to retrieve the insured P25K.  After a couple of days, I had the amount already.  I immediately scouted for a second hand car, procured it at P15K, spent 5k for repair and repainting job and sold it for 40K. With that amount,  I bought another car at 20K and loaded it with 5k worth of accessories then sold it for 50k.  Thereupon.  I haggled for another car at 20K poured in 10 for accessories and sold it for 80K.  And finally, I acquired a bargain, a car worth 15K and sold it at 60K.  In all, I was able to regain the full amount of P115K.

When I visited my father after a quarter, he was in his garden and as usual, having a tutorial class. He was teaching Nihongo during weekends.   That was his hobby and means of earning extra dough.

I greeted my father and handed over to him an envelope with the amount P115K.  “Tay, I finally recovered your retirement savings with interest”  I proudly proclaimed.

Father was unimpressed.  He merely took my greetings as my usual antic.  But when he opened the envelope, his eyes widened.  He counted the bills and smiled at me.  He admonished me, “Of course, you produced this without hurting anyone?”

“Of course!”  I answered.  “I was a buy-and-sell merchant for a while until I succeeded in producing the amount.”

“Well, then…” my father paused and handed back the envelope to me.  “Use this money and start your own business.”

Of course not!”  I pleaded.  “I am not a businessman. I am in government and my line is public service.   I merely wanted to prove that I can recover anything as long as I put my heart into it.  Now, use it along with Nanay and travel, enjoy your retirement and I will take care of the rest.“

My father bought himself a gold necklace and a matching gold anklet for himself.  He likewise gave mother a gold earring and diamond tiara.

They were a happy couple and they were gleaming in every party they attended.  They would even wear their precious trinkets at home as if they were anticipating a grand event.  In short, they were a picture of accomplishment, a majestic portrait of a decorated couple.

A month later, their gems got lost.

Again, my father sent me a word that their jewelries were gone.

I responded to my father with a message “Oh, well, don’t worry Tay ; at least, you enjoyed it.”

PRIVATIZING CORRECTIONAL SERVICE

corrections

RA 10575 otherwise known as the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013 should be sent back to Congress for amendment.  While the law has not yet been fully implemented as a result of deficient technical requirements, there is wisdom in reviewing the legislative piece if only to enhance the mandate for which it was intended to be.

The amendment should include options by national government to privatize a part, a segment or the whole of correctional agency.  As it were, while the entire correctional administration is governed by government, there were certain areas which eventually became privatized like food preparation and security consultancy.  This may also expand into technical and certain important part of correctional service to include even the principal mandate of safekeeping and rehabilitation.  These should be legislated.

There is truth in the increase of efficiency and competence when private sector management is applied in an exclusively public sector activity.  At most, when private management is applied, there is no politics of accommodation noted.  As a matter of fact, there will be no politics at all in the entire configuration of the activity.  Well, except for the fact that the head of the institution is duly recommended by the Department of Justice and subsequently to be appointed by the President.

Furthermore, if this particular field is to be privatized, it pays to review the law that defined other corrective services too like the jail system, probation and parole supervision.

In other countries especially in Texas, USA and Canada, most of the county jails are administered privately.  In Japan, probation and parole supervision is conducted by volunteers.  These countries, developed as they are, have economized and at the same time made efficient correctional services.

In the mid-1990s, our correctional system explored the possibility of a semi-privatized approach.  South Korea picked it up as one of the best practices.  We have never extended, much more so improved on it.  Meanwhile, South Korea is in the full privatization scheme already.

In some African states, there were even alternative approaches, mostly along community based, where imprisonment is no longer effectively applied for some offenders.  Some countries went further by decriminalizing offenses especially victimless crimes.

Over here, we act as if we have unlimited resources to contain and sustain correctional administration to its successful end.  Government pays for everything as if it has a generous coffer brimming with funds.  Worst, it could not even increase the salary and allowances of its workers beyond what is required as standard.   Government even pledged to build a multibillion peso structure, a state of the art prison to address congestion when it could not even sustain the rehabilitation of storm ravaged provinces in the Visayas. In fact, prison congestion can be resolved simply by transferring prisoners from congested penal establishments to other penal colonies with less financial exposure on the part of government.

Over here, we have a penchant for cornering infra projects one after another without contemplating on economy.  Our sense of problem resolution at times is diluted by our weakness for transactional considerations.

Privatizing correctional service is not only economical and efficient; it is even more preferred when it comes to an effective delivery of criminal justice services in the field of corrections.  It is, as a matter of course, the proper step towards a more efficient correctional administration.

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