THE SO-CALLED BUCOR MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2013: why it got stuck
In May 24, 2013, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III signed into law RA 10575 otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) and providing funds therefor.” The Act is also to be known as “The Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013.”
On the ground, it is referred to as “Bucor Modernization Act of 2013” because the principal coverage of its declared policy calls for the provision of “modernization, professionalization and restructuring of the agency by upgrading its facilities, increasing the number of its personnel, upgrading the level of qualifications of their personnel and standardizing their base pay, retirement and other benefits…”
The law (RA 10575) like any other laws requires the fulfillment of a technical provision towards its full application. Hence, Section 23 of the law says, “The DOJ, in coordination with the Bucor, the CSC, the DBM and the Department of Finance (DOF), shall, within ninety (90) days from the effectivity of this Act, promulgate the rules and regulations necessary to implement the provisions of this Act.”
On December 12, 2014, DOJ formally launched the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10575. Then DOJ Secretary Leila Delima implored that “With the passage of the law and the promulgation of the IRR, the Bucor now has the flexibility to adjust its facilities, manpower and other resources to meet the changing and growing needs of our corrections system and to adequately and fairly compensate its personnel who meet the professionalization standards set forth in the law.”
On same date, the Honorable DOJ Secretary referred the prison leadership with his new title as “Director General.” It was presumed on said occasion that the announcement will cascade down to the organization and those offices and officers pursuant to law and its IRR will gradually have their new titles and calling.
Everybody was congratulating everyone. Every Pedro, Juan and Pilar in the agency was claiming heroic adulation for the passage of the law. Every Toto, Talpulano and Petra wanted to be recognized for the sacrifices in making follow through. Indeed, the formulation, drafting, haggling and eventually the passing of the Bucor Law is a historic accomplishment that invites parentage from all sectors of the correctional system.
Two years later however, the law has not yet been applied and implemented. Accordingly, there are still requirements sought and additional technical necessities which must be submitted before the final application can be carried out. Even the Bucor administration is found wanting. It has never taken steps to follow what is there in the law itself except wait until it is spoon fed as what happened when DOJ announced that the head of the agency shall henceforth be called Director General.
The Director General of Corrections did not pursue what his superior has initiated. He was cautious. He never referred to the succeeding line of officers after him. And since it was overlooked, the entire process got paralyzed from neck down to the extremities so to speak. Lahat naging mahiyain na!
That is the problem. There was desperation everywhere. If this is sports, we have this situation where a person who does not know basketball is made a coach of a basketball team. Or from the medical point of view, a nuclear scientist was assigned to conduct a heart by-pass operation. Be that as it may, the players (or patients for that matter) are not even alarmed on this awkward situation. They would still blame the world for their losses and unfortunate fate.
Furthermore, instead of reckoning the provision of law with respect to Deputy Director General items which refer to organic members of the organization, the Bucor leadership would recommend and DOJ would accept the appointment of “outsiders.” From said acts alone, there was no serious nay solemn observance of the new law already. How can it proceed to tackle onwards to complete the entire picture of implementation if it has been saddled with ambiguities?
And now, the organization feels that the law, RA 10575 is still hanging in mid air, unimplemented, disregarded and unheeded. But of course, because nobody gives a shit about how the organization works. Hindi gagalaw ang batas at hindi ito maisasakatuparan sa pamamagitan ng kwentuhan at sisihan lang.
Meanwhile, the blame game continues. Malacanan has been impugned, DBM has been censured, DOJ is pestered with requests, CSC is badgered for consultation. They can do so much provided the concerned office, the agency itself, Bucor, must provide the necessary working site on which the law should operate. Humingi ang Bucor sa Kongreso at sa Palasyo ng batas at ito ay binigay naman. Parang humingi ng bagong behikulo sa kadahilanan na luma na ang sasakyang ginagamit, laging nasisira at mabagal tumakbo. Nang mabigyan ng bagong sasakayan, nagrereklamo na naman kasi nga walang marunong magmaneho nito.
That is how government in the side of Criminal Justice Administration functions. There is the belief that politics can make things happen although in reality things have stalled to a standstill.
Can RA 10575 get untangled from where it got stuck? Don’t sulk. It’s not even the end of the world. Don’t even blame the stars, simply start renaming old items into new ones and everything will follow.