ONE FINE DAY IN THE BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS
There are prison guards who continued with their studies in law and after graduating, would take the Bar and eventually passing it. In my long and continued career in the prison service, although in quite a long interval, there were instances when we will be delighted with news of those who would pass State Examinations. Of course, there is the usual Civil Service Exams, both in its dated or walk-in phase.
There are State Board Exams too. The Criminology Board, the Penology Exams, the Accounting Board, the Engineering Board, the Nursing Board and the hard to hurdle Medical Board and the most difficult, the Bar Exams.
I remember a prison guard (Atty. Carlos Llaniguez) from Iwahig Penal Colony who passed the Bar Exams. He was feted and praised. Not only was he recognized by his peers in a celebratory matter, he was instantly assigned at the Office of the Director General. I met the fellow right there and prodded him to apply for the Penal Superintendent position. I did not stop there. I went to see the Director (General G. Pangilinan) and advised him to assign the newbie in the legal profession in a superintendent post.
I don’t know what happened next but I was lately informed that the fellow stuck in office work and paper pushing, resigned and went to another institution. That departure ended the possible entrance of a barrister into the command level in the field of correctional administration.
The agency, as it was, had to make do with non-lawyers. Well, it’s fine if there are no controversies but when the crunches come, the institution is in a tail spin. I could only watch the appointing the authority, the Director himself, babbling and nattering defensive lines on TV until he gets the ax.
Now, there is somehow a wind of change, some kind of wishful luck that behooves the Bureau of Corrections. Not only was there a lawyer as Director General , there are three prison personnel who passed the recent Bar Exams! Yes, three. As the saying goes “good things come in threes.” Nothing of this sort happened in the past; hence this could be new and maybe providential.
We now have the new lawyers, as organic as you can see, in our correctional institution: Prison Guard III Melencio Faustino, Prison Guard II Frederic Anthony Santos and Prison Guard Daisy Sevilla-Castillote.
It is time for prison administration to grab the opportunity to make not only history but a legacy at the same time. Hold on to these three Bar Passers. There are vacant Penal Superintendent positions. Require the Selection and Promotion Board to conduct a special deliberation and immediately require the three personnel to submit their application for the Superintendent position. Once taken up, once recommended and once appointed, three Superintendents posting would have been determined and to be manned by lawyers already.
That alone is a crowning glory for the Prison leadership. The promotion of the three personnel would not only inspire the rank and file, it would even spark a movement towards professionalization in the organization.
That could only mean not only a day, but a one fine historical period when Philippine Corrections gets a boost from well trained and State recognized officer corps.