They have a name besmirched by law. Their reputation in the free community damaged beyond recognition. They have been featured as villain, projected as felon, an anti hero and a scoundrel. As such, they are considered a menace in their environment much more so a prowling, dangerous character, hence they are imprisoned.
Having violated the laws, they lost the right to remain in the free society anymore. They ought to be segregated for a period to lament and repent for what they have done. They are expected to expiate for whatever transgressions they have committed.
In the prison community however such expectations may be realized to a certain degree. But most likely, the feeling could be fleeting and cumbersome. The environment is too gross, too fearsome, too threatening that a day of incarceration means a period of hopelessness, a moment of desperation.
And why not? One rubs elbow with eccentrics decreed by norms as the basest, vilest, and foulest. It is a community of superlatives in the negative sense. Either one becomes absorb and would eventually act as one, or would regret and start life anew from the time of admission up to the time of release.
Imprisonment is a medium for repair; a silent occasion for atonement. It is full of remorse and shame. It is intended to break the shell of the person to squeeze the better quality in him. For someone who literally was immersed in privileges, living a high-end life full of perks, prison is hell that must be tamed.
To an ordinary mortal who is clamped may merely stop by and acclimatize to the bare condition of a restricted area but to a person used to extras and perquisites, prison is a place that must be re-formed. For the celebrity prisoner, reformation pertains his environment and not his persona. He would rather reorder his surroundings than change himself.
In prison one must waste a stretch. Prisoners are there to serve time, to ignore days, to disregard the passing of a spell. Time is of no consequence at all. What a matter is the daily monotonous grind, which everyone must capture and overlook.
One may even sleep his time away, or do some crafts, perform something stressful or pray in a manner how monks execute their routine. Life is drab and repetitive. The climate is dull and boring. One must create an atmosphere for adventure. And the celebrity prisoners have the resources, mental and economic to pull such feat.
Aside from engaging prison authorities, haggling actually for some benefits like a trip to a first class Hospital, and if lucky, to be allowed to have confinement also, or be consented to build a bachelor’s pad, or permitted to install an air conditioning unit in his cell, the negotiation in itself is a form of excitement already.
Bargaining, brokering for advantage is a process, which makes their day. They find delight by using prison authorities, be they prison guards, their supervisors or superiors, as pawns they can easily move into position to get favor. They knew all along that it could be done at the right price or persuasion.
Everything for them can be bought or exchanged. They failed to get it however in some judicial respects but they knew they can achieve it in the course of their incarceration. And so, the fourth pillar of the criminal justice system, corrections, would bore the brunt of pressure and temptation.
The celebrity prisoners represent one sector in the prison community that defies convention. They are there to control. They are there to influence. They are there to fulfill a destiny which no other categories or organized system can dissuade. They make prison a challenge and for the greater number of officers, a career-ending confrontation.
New Bilibid Prison is entering a new phase of sociological evolution. It is no longer the same as it was years ago. The prison population has ballooned. The prison officers, the supervisors, have aged considerably and those at the periphery were almost in their sophomore years. The great divide could be seen organisationally and sociologically.
That’s right folks. NBP’s complexion has changed. While there were make overs on one side and some flickering changes on the other, the prison population under its sphere is evolving. As a matter of fact, it has changed already. The change is more on the profile of the prison community.
Prison administration are concerned no longer on how secure the facility but more on how to dodge the perennial effects on handling the evolving crops of gangs and influential persons from the vantage point of control. The issue on “who controls who” and what constitutes control as in “what controls what” predominates every single issue of the day.
Gone were the days when the most brutal, with strings of violent crimes tucked in one’s record before he becomes a gang leader. The bigger the sentence to be served the more qualified and awe inspiring he gets to receive the plum of gang leadership.
Then came the intellectual, the ideologue, chosen to lead the prison community for his intelligence and astuteness. They comprise the more intelligent crop would emerge coming the ranks of the so-called political prisoners. These are the intellectuals, the ideologues, and the firebrand. They easily qualify as leaders who have the capacity to deal with intelligent issues and negotiate/ bargain for privileges to prison authorities in favor of the gang they were representing.
After a brief period, the celebrity came to the fore. It did not take long when the gangs would elect one who is not only intellectually superior but also celebrated and wealthy.
Then came the rich, wealthy convicts. Gangs deferred to them not because they are to be recruited to the gang hierarchy. They are gang-less in the first place and would never kowtow to any grouping in the prison compound. But they have to live with the situation that gangs are not only a part but a fact of life in prison. They could not escape the influence of gangs. These wealthy convicts, the so called celebrity inmates would instead scout and buy out gangs. The more gang franchises, the better.
Then came the so-called super rich, those who were once a denizen in the world of the rich and famous. They were not haggled by gangs to be recruited. They came not to be conscripted. They came to buy gangs by the dozen so to speak! For a while, they lorded over the prison community, until a new batch came into view.
This sector was oftentimes ignored and would play secondary role in the spectrum of prison society. They were even made as puppets and incidental characters. They were few and rare. They were mostly foreigners. Then their numbers grew and since their penalty was longer, their quantity accumulated until they virtually become a force, a social force, to reckon with in the prison community. And this group does not appear empty handed. They are worth billions because of the trade for which they were convicted. They are the drug lords.
The drug lords may be rendered incapacitated through incarceration but the narcotic business in the free community is alive and kicking. There is even a suspicion that illegal drug business has permeated government through narco-politics. Politicians, it has been said, are sponsored and underwritten by the lucrative revenues of illegal drug trade. And these imprisoned drug lords, despite their physical absence in the free community, are still running the show through linkages.
This is the present situation of New Bilibid Prison, once a symbol of hopelessness, agony and desperation. Now it is more of a sanctuary of persons known for stealth, craftiness and ingenuity.