Monthly Archives: June 2016

LET THERE BE CHANGE!

vjt change

The Du30 administration has not taken full flight yet but there are telltale signs that change is beginning to take shape.  Long forgotten and oftentimes ignored ordinances on curfew suddenly resurrected in the midst of crowded slum areas.  Marching orders against drug peddling and abuse became an overnight concern of law enforcement.  The fear of local authorities being hailed to court for human rights abuses by suspects instantly faded away.  While it can be described as a local concern, the law enforcement effort immediately got nationwide application.

This could be a year of exciting provocation.  Everyone is provoked to do his part in the changing fortunes of times.  You wanted change then let there be!    You do not want corruption in government?  Then do away with bribery.

But wait a minute.  The bureaucracy has prescribed too many requirements and has given its officials too much prerogative that if one intends to make easy any transaction, costly and cumbersome as it were, poor client must shell out something to facilitate his needs or he spends a fortune and almost a lifetime making follow ups.  That is bribery short and simple.  The solution is to make requirements basic and easy to submit.  If not, then better obliterate the office.  President Duterte at one instance intimated such a point when he, out of frustration, declared that he intends to abolish BIR and LTO!

Looks like there will be more agencies to be exterminated due to irregularities in their functions.

The Du30 administration is already on the right track.  His choice of DENR Secretary is an inspired one.  Tapping the services of people from the Left is also a brilliant move.  Disregarding the vexatious media is something for the books.  Ignoring the Church is political strength at its best.  Replacing the whole caboodle of political appointees, tainted with ineptitude and clumsiness, is very respectful.  Highly influential captains of industry have been given their proper seats away from the presidential ear.

There are a lot of groundworks to conduct.  There must be legislation to pursue policies aimed at concretizing the changes to be made.    While there are laws as yet to be implemented properly, there are more to be fashioned out if only to deliver the correct political posture.  The move towards Federalism as form of government is one.  The re-imposition of death penalty another.  The provision of foreign ownership to spark economic investment like Singapore, Malaysia and other developed countries is considered.  Increase in the salary of uniformed agencies to project professional and efficient public service. The unconditional release of political prisoners and serious reckoning of peace talks with the rebellious sector beckons hope for lasting peace.

While these concerns lay at the core of Du30’s political trepidation, there also lay his pet peeve.  He wanted criminality down in 3 to 6 months.  It was a campaign promise which he translated into a battle cry.

He wanted all criminal gangs wiped out and it goes without saying to level down even the National Penitentiary down to its foundations.

There were doubters and skeptics in and out of government.  Senator Ping Lacson, formerly PNP Chief, one who has a storied record as law enforcer, could not imagine how it would translate into reality.  Yet there are sectors who subscribe to the belief that it can be done.

The way curfew and arrest of violators are made regularly, including the seizure of homeless and street urchins in urban areas, they who are most likely the precursor of pedestrian crimes, in time would result in a crime free corridor for all.  It may be that artless but it is the start, the first stage to launch a greater one.  Passing Crime 101 leads to its requisite Crime 102.  Determining the origin and solving petty felonies makes government confident in dealing and eradicating major crimes.

Du30 administration could easily claim success on their campaign promise on peace and order in record time.

There are more challenges up ahead, some complicated others trivial.  There are complex legal and political policies but these could immediately be addressed by a veteran legal mind of the President himself.  The simplicity of the quest devoid of complicated jargon, easily grasped and understood by common man, made the entire pursuit worth collaborating.  Filipinos may have the penchant for snubbing their leaders in the past because they are inured at being used only for political ends but given the frank and genuine approach of this administration, it is no longer farfetched for Filipinos to collectively participate in the observance of discipline on a nationwide basis.

Filipinos abroad are not only capable of acculturation but are assiduous in their adherence to follow the rules strictly.

Finally, it took a Du30 to unlock the secret of pushing the Filipino to the heights of developing his country.

Well, the rest of the promises seem simple and could certainly be met at this point.  A good start if you may!

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WHAT TO DO WITH CRIMINALS

vjt bitay 2

The spate of viciousness directed at drug lords and their minions, the drug pushers, has been inspired by the incoming Duterte administration, a professed hater of crime.  And why not?  Drug crazed zombies roam the streets and wreak havoc in most communities virtually disturbing peace in a fatal manner. They ought to be taken down since they have it coming.

Aside from those referred to as merchants of death, which those involved in illegal drug trade are known, we can even up the ante by including liquor and cigarette traders as well.  As it were, almost 40% of crimes are committed by intoxicated persons.   Almost a number of people suffer from irreversible ailments brought about by smoking, even passive ones are victimized.  Government should decide once and for all whether to run not only after drug peddlers but also on other vice (liquor and cigarette) dealers as well.   After all, the ill-effect of liquor and smoke is more than that of drugs.   An ordinance banning liquor for 4 hours and smoking in public places is not enough.

Death to all those who violate the laws!  Let the law of retribution takes its course and let the State and its apparatus comply with the mandate.

Abolish prison if necessary.  It is not only archaic but irrelevant in a world constantly challenged by disorder.  Peace must reign and let not anyone contradict the order.

If however the State would acknowledge the principle that there is still something in man worth saving and that he still can be restored and reformed, then imprisonment, no matter how fleeting and extraneous, may be a proximate option.

If the state’s machinery could not contain so much violence and decide to sustain incarceration, then let those in the business of prison management do the walking.

Prison service is not for the faint of heart.  It is an adventure replete with lessons on patience and understanding.  Criminals or those with offensive outlook do not become saintly once admitted into the prison community the next day.  It takes years, at times a life time.  That is why the courts would hand over judgment on the period with which an offender must serve time.  The State even would spend tax money for the maintenance and subsistence of this sector let alone formulate programs for the rehabilitation of offenders, no matter how ghastly the crimes they have committed.

Prison personnel are in the midst of an artificial community simplified by inmates on the basis of deception.  They must simulate an atmosphere of normalcy in an abnormal condition.  They knew fairly well that the prison community is the flipside of the free community; and for a lengthy period, inmates must live through every situation that requires sanity in an otherwise insane consideration.  Man was never born to be caged in the first place.

It is frustrating whenever recidivism is noted.  There is failure of corrections when this happens.  But of course, the rate does not raise much concern.  In the Philippines, recidivism is 5% compared to US which is about 75%.  There is still hope although much is desired.

For all we know, our prison system has been managed irreverently on the basis of politics and not on how to properly administer correctional precepts.  There is abuse, incompetence, even ineptitude and stupidity that marks every corner of the prison service.  There is nothing serious in the choice of administrators.  There is compelling response however when the accumulated clumsiness would pass on from administrator to the implementers.

Suddenly, the lowly guards are blamed for all the expressed foolishness that would accrue.  Suddenly, the prison workers, exposed in the hazard and blight condition, are the most culpable and should be administratively exterminated.  It is like denouncing nurses for the wrong prescription given by doctors that made the patient worsen in his condition.  It is like blaming SAF 44 for following the orders of a suspended PNP Chief.

We better check the correct equation to fully understand the social configuration of our times.  Re-check if necessary.

What to do with offenders in prison?  Are we adhering to the notion that assault is essential?  The better question is:  Will it be directed on the prerogative to choose a leader from the ranks of those who know nothing about prison administration, Or, directed against tainted prison personnel, Or, directed against inmates themselves?

My guess is as good as yours.

CHILDHOOD DREAM

vjt and volks yellow

When I was a kid, I drooled whenever a Volkswagen car would pass by.  I thought that driving one was almost reaching heaven.  For me it was tantamount to attaining holiness, the apex of faith, the culmination of everlasting life.  Having a toy car however was nearest that aim.

It was never easy.  When I asked my father if he could buy a car, his reply was snappy, he cannot because he does not know how to drive one.  He had a point.  I could not own one also because I cannot drive either.

My father gave me a suggestion instead.  He said that I should study hard in school, read books so that one day if I will be employed, I would get paid and from there I could buy a car of my choice.   Once I get one, I will be compelled to learn in driving it.  It was as easy and as simple as that.

And so I went inside my room and started pouring over the books, tried to be attentive in school, even tried harder for some extracurricular activities until I realized that my dream of owning a Volkswagen had fizzled off.  The volks no longer attracted attention.  There were lots of car models to choose from.  I lost interest too in toys and got more hooked on reading.  At that time, I dreamt of being a writer.

But as soon as I visit one library after another, I thought that the field of literature was already over populated.  There were a lot of authors, a lot of writers, brilliant ones at that and if at all I would include my warm body, it would just be too much.  No more writing for me.

And so I traversed the path towards Arts.  It was an exciting proposition.  Besides, I had the inclination, the patience and talent.  I could instantly follow the style of the masters; I could immediately mix and blend colors.  The problem however is that there was too much creativity required and I had no insane part of my body to exude that quality.  And so I reverted to sculpture.  Only a few artists can navigate such consuming branch of art.  I went further.  I worked on bust sculpture, on portrait sculpture.  After all, there was only a handful of masters in this craft.  Unfortunately, there was also little revenue in it.

I coasted along and after a brief period in the academe with little exposure in arts, I settled to work in government.

Year after year, I ascended towards a higher post until I became a supervisor.  With enough savings from my allowances, deducting personal necessities, books and art materials, I was able to save something for what I intend to own.

At that time, the cost of living could only accommodate so little.  And since I cannot buy prestige, could not afford to publish my works neither could compete in an expensive foray in arts, I thought of rummaging the nearest junkshop.

And lo and behold, there was this poorly parked car, an aged, run down Volkswagen.  I plucked out my savings and bought it.  I pulled it out and tried to inject life into it.  I offered what I learned, the patience of writing, the interest in arts and the audacity of a government worker.  In a month’s time, the Volks had gained a life of its own.

Owning and driving one made my childhood dream a reality after all.

LIKE DU30 I WAS ALSO BASHED BY MEDIA

old vjt

President Rodrigo Duterte pledged that he will never talk to media until his tenure is completed.  And he had valid reasons for it.  He said that media would spin anything to make a person look bad even if the person was trying to project something good.  It is media that dictates how the public would view anyone.  It is not how reality should be shown; it is how media wanted the public to perceive their brand of negative reality.  Of course, this is intended to make news, the controversial one.  Controversy makes news and more following and therefore commercially viable.  People lap it up.

And so media at first would make a person prominent, illustrious even.  Once the public gets hooked, then media throws a monkey wrench on the person and it becomes prime news.  That is when media gets its revenue kick even if the poor person’s integrity is sacrificed.

When President Duterte was invited before a select group of businessmen for a conference, he explained that there are three kinds of journalists in their midst.  The crusading kind—they are the advocates of truth and fair play; and the mercenary type—-they who promotes or highlights for a fee;  and the threatening variety.  The threatening variety is unprofessional and would likely to expose foul and at times invented or skewed facts to destroy a person.  They are mostly the victims of assassination.  Media never bothered reporting the whole but rather plucked out that part about the threatening variety and blew out news that Duterte favors assassination of journalists.  International news had a heyday quoting the news and Duterte became an overnight villain.

No more media interview for Duterte from that time on.

Once upon a time I was also feted by media.  I was the face of prison service.  I was the face of expertise when it comes to execution of death penalty.  I was sought after whenever there are controversies that require discussion when it comes to prison problems.  I was a celebrity.

Then I was asked to manage New Bilibid Prison, this was in 2014.  At that time, death in the prison community was constant, averaging 10 a day.  Congestion and epidemic, not to mention gang related violence had compounded a toll on the peace, order and lives of thousands of convicts compacted into a limited area.  I organized activity centers to draw the prisoners into constructive workshop away from gang related violence (which includes drug peddling) and at the same time, isolate inmates infected with TB from rendering the community with lethal contagion.

It took a month of persuasion but the effects were encouraging.  Deaths and violence including drug menace radically reduced.

Inmates however will never be swayed away from gang membership because of privileges that is why my activity centers were profusely provided with amenities.  When prisoners virtually were recruited into my programs, I asked my supervisor to allow me to rearrange the prison community by batch.   That way, gangs will no longer flex their muscles and influence over the prison population.  Without gangs, violence and yes, drug menace will slowly wither away.

Gangs are highly organized that they virtually control territories in the whole archipelago.  Gangs have been organized on a regional basis and their effective influence can transcend from their lowly cell in prison up to the free community all over the country.  Prisons have been transformed into seminaries of syndicates to learn and advance their exposure on the world of criminality.

Gangs therefore from my standpoint must be obliterated.  But my superior felt that doing so might create more problems.  My proposal was met with a cold shoulder.  Thinking that I had no more efficient approach to make,  I asked that I be reassigned back to Davao Penal Colony where I used to be assigned since there are no gangs in its facility—well,  actually the only prison establishment in the country where there are no gangs.

A year later, gangs in NBP took over the activity centers which I organized, drained its equipment  and gadgets then transferred it to the gang controlled dormitories.  There were complaints by prisoners and their families, losing hope on an activity they wished could give them skill, reaching the Department of Justice.

DOJ mounted a series of raids and discovered amenities inside the cell blocks of inmate gang leaders.  Media was quick to search for people to blame.  And since I was the one who organized activity centers that allowed the use of amenities a year ago, without even seeking for my response, my name was bandied all over prime news as the epitome of allowing the transformation of prison into a haven or a gangster’s paradise!

I asked my superiors for permission to make a press conference but I was not given the chance.  Meanwhile, media continued with bashing my name without even asking for my explanation as if I invented the wheel of VIP treatment in the penitentiary.  Unable to get my side officially explained, I submitted my application for retirement instead.

That is the only way, in my estimation; I could prove to my friends, relatives and colleagues that I was not what media wanted my persona to project.  If I could retire smoothly that could only mean that I was not in any way charged nor had a case against that I must deal with.

President Duterte hated media and would not speak to them until his term ends because he was unfortunately given a wrong spin.    In my case, I had the same experience.  Nonetheless, I had a grand time enjoying retirement away from the limelight.  It pays to be a commoner.

 

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