The country’s penal system has been re-profiled with the influx of convictions coming from the ranks of offenders carrying a new tag for committing a victimless crime. Indeed, mere possession of illegal drugs under Republic Act 9165 (otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972) is already punishable and could send a violator in prison to serve time.
Since RA 9165 is a special law, that is a piece of legislation amplifying the significance of addressing the circulation and use of dangerous drugs although previously addressed in the Revised Penal Code, the penalty clause was further increased for violators, necessitating a number of convictions that heralded a crop of numerous inmates admitted for incarceration carrying comparatively longer sentences than the rest in the prison community.
In other countries where there is death penalty like China, violation of drug law is already a case for condemnation. In the Philippines, since there is no death penalty, the prescribed penalty is Life Imprisonment. Hence, when a foreigner (whose country has retained the capital punishment of death) is found guilty of violating the country’s drug laws and as a matter of course would have to be deported to deal with their own judicial system, the person would rather haggle and stay in the country to stay alive.
There are countless instances when said convicted foreigner would even commit another offense, say Estafa, so that he can use the settlement procedure to pay his victims through installment. If the amount is P2 Million and the victim agrees to be paid say P40K a month, then the offender have bought precious time to be retained in the country, whether in prison or otherwise, for 50 months or a little more than 4 years.
Sooner, the imprisoned foreigner finds out that with bundles of money (derived from drug transactions) while it may not secure freedom could provide him a decent spot in the prison camp. His fellow inmates at a drop of a tip would be more than willing to run errands for him. He can even use their visitors to revive his drug schemes and connections in the free community. As soon as dealings are forged and resuscitated, the flow of narcotic money becomes an instant effect. The inmate foreigner becomes a cause celebre , a person deferred by his fellows, an instant leader and an influential mover of events. He is even more sought after than prison authorities. Worst, some prison officers would even sought them for relief!
While the country is deep in its slumber, contented that the drug lord is booked and imprisoned, his tentacles remain active nonetheless and his influence is almost everywhere. He is running his drug empire from the safety of his prison cell!
Hence, the jail/prison community pulsates with oodles of money a part of which is in circulation and a portion is a mandatory reserve for bribing officers, enticing inmates to do their bids, corrupting prison volunteers like the religious sector, media and NGOs, and inducing the gullible multitude to facilitate matters for their (drug convicts) own personal designs.
The illegal trade of methamphetamine hydrochloride commonly known as “shabu” has grown into a P1 Billion-a-day industry, but the drug has now become more expensive, making it “the poor man’s cocaine no more,” antinarcotics officials and international drug reports said. Recently, the average street price of “shabu” in the Philippines ranges from P 15K to P17 K depending on the demographical location. The increase was a result of aggressive law enforcement posture.
These problems are not limited on trafficking and production of drugs but go beyond the problem of drug addiction. Drug addiction is the cradle of heinous crimes. 65% of the suspects are drug addicts. Drug addiction respects no boundaries.
The worsening drug abuse in the country can be gleaned from the fact that in 1972 (the period when RA 9165 was handed down), there were 20,000 drug users in the country. A number of years later, this figure has climbed to an astronomical count of 6.7 million. Shabu and marijuana remain as the preferred illegal drug by one in every 29 Filipinos aged 10 to 44 years.
Until such time that money, that which exceeds P1,000., is declared as contraband, like most prisons in Southeast Asia, control would remain elusive in the jargon of prison administration. Prison officials will be locked up in frustration, threatened always with shadows, become endangered specie and worst, may be lured to become puppets and dishonored eventually towards ineptitude.
Control is the foundation of correctional security, the substance of discipline and the fountainhead of administration. If control can be bought and procured at will; and those who are subjects become the ruling force in the prison community, then management may only project itself not only as an object of hilarity, but an entity deprived of respect.
It has been said that a gram of shabu makes a common man stable in the face of hunger, steady while engrossed in work, concentrated and focused. It is like aspirin to a headache. But if shabu is taken during a feat of desperation, during a period of depression, during a lull in one’s emotion, then it becomes fodder to a criminal cannon. It emboldens the coward, inspires the dull, deadens the senses and destroys the mind after it devastates the body.
Yet this synthetic and relatively cheaper drug, formulated from expensive cocaine and referred to as poor-man’s stuff, is a contraband in the priority list of items to be confiscated on the spot in the prison facility. Those in possession are also immediately charged for an offense in violation of Anti Illegal Drugs Law. It is ironic however that prisoners wished and pray for that day when they will rejoin their family in the free community and yet some of them transact and consume the contraband especially drugs to the detriment of their health and security condition.
Drug addicts when incarcerated are almost in their dying state. The siren call of rehab in prison no longer rings a hopeful sound for them. They simply transform into zombies serving aimlessly without any thought for optimism. They simply want to end everything. What is however unfortunate for this kind of outlook is their intensity to end life with recklessness and abandon, destroying not only their future but also those along the path where they intend to pass through.
Since hopelessness is more pronounced than hopefulness in a prison facility because of its physical structure and disciplinary climate, any substance that could temporarily paralyze the mind is a potent item desired for consumption. For quite a time, tattooing, which is a painful procedure inflicted on the body to dampen emotional pain was resorted to until technology and approaches making it more itching rather than burning in its sensation. Intoxicating substances became its replacement.—-even rubbing alcohol as a drinking medium tried! The bulky substances never made it in gates until the almost invisible gram size drug became a fad.
There are several ways by which the tiny substance can be smuggled. Through cavities of the visitor’s body, through hems of clothing, through canned goods, through sealed letters/ documents, etc. The list is endless. The miniscule poison gets through even with the most sophisticated searching device employed. The only way it could be busted is when somebody rats on the goods. The depressive environment of a prison facility finds a compatible deadly mate in the form of shabu. The complainants, the victims of the imprisoned offenders must be satisfied with this development. While they wished that they had the courage to pull the trigger to exterminate their predators, the latter is left committing karmic suicide all by themselves.
Prison administration can only do so much to enhance the future potential of their wards. Programs intended to promote prison welfare are there. Professionalism among personnel, while challenged regularly by prison infraction, is never detracted at all. It is constant and as certain as their payroll and benefits. What divides the success in implementing the mandate of corrections lays mainly not on the mindset of the organization but more on how the prison community deals with a self imposed curse it has inflicted on itself.