An Eye Opener: The Truth About The New Bilibid Prison

Last Friday, June 8, 2012, a very self-enlightenment and a very rare event was held in Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). It was supposedly a simple Media Visit to its facilities, provide learrnings about the BuCor’s mandate on Safekeeping and Restoration of the National Prisoners. Led by BuCor Director Retired Military General Gaudencio Pangilinan. This ongoing program allows and provides the prisoners the rightful and accordingly treatment as a human being despite of their offenses.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor or BC) ; Kawanihan ng Koreksyon (in Filipino) is an agency of the Department of Justice which is charged with the custody and rehabilitation of national offenders, who have been sentenced to three years of imprisonment or more. The agency has its headquarters in the New Bilibid Prison Reservation in Muntinlupa City.

I must admit, I grew up with a not-so-positive impression about our prisoners and the Bureau of Corrections itself. Before I decided t join my blogger friends to visit this place, I got a lot of hesitations and what-ifs in mind. I’m a bit nervous while were on our way there.

This is also why I am excited to visit this place. BuCor has already implemented its programs on Reformation and Restorative Justice for our prisoners.

  • Healthcare Program
  • Education and Skills Development
  • Livelihood and Livelihood Training
  • Moral and Spiritual Enlightenment
  • Sports and Recreation Progam
  • Behavioural Modification
Along with several volunteer groups, the six imperatives of the reformation program are being successfully executed and provided to all prisoners. Some prisoners are also empowered and make them feel important by being given their respective tasks to lead and provide good examples to the other prisoners.
BuCor Director: Gaudencio Pangilinan

“We want to embark to the Filipino people’s minds that our prisoners must be seen and treated as people, as a human being.” Pangilinan said.

The implementation of the reformation programs for the prisoners has been accepted and being supported by several volunteer groups and even receiving support from other government agencies around the metro. This is expected to provide self-esteem upbringing of the prisoners, not feel that they’re not accepted by the nation and being rejected of the opportunity to be corrected and be transformed for the better.

Currently, prisoners got a lot of self-empowerment activities which helps them improve their skills and knowledge while inside the corrections. Livelihood trainings are also provided to them. I personally witnessed the peace in their eyes while they do their paintings, wood carvings and other activities.

Their end-products are being sold and were part of several exhibits in the Philippines. The money will be theirs as part of their livelihood.

“These are just one part of the programs we are implementing for our prisoners for their safekeeping and transformation, and ensure that they will feel accepted and that they have a role to take part in the nation,” Pangilinan said.

What about those who had already served their sentence in the prison and are ready to face the outside world again? The livelihood trainings and educational assistance is helping them to live a new life outside and get a job. While inside the correction, those who are already working for the bureau, they are given minimum wage aside from the government benefits like SSS, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth which they can use and avail outside. Nice! 🙂

It was really nice to have be with the inmates and have some chitchats with them. I felt the happiness in them when they saw us there. Some of them were busy playing bastketball and badminton. Some of them were smiling and just watching up go around the facilities. They also prepared a little salo-salo for us while the well-known bands serenade us with their original compositions. The mini-concert was led by the BuCor’s own BTV3 channel. This group is also composed of several inmates. They are in-charge of the programs within the facility along with the events management team of the Bureau. The Bahala na Gang Band gracefully entertained us with their raggae and original compositions.

E-Dalaw program is also being provided to the prisoners. This program allows them to be able to see and talk to their love ones who are located in different country or some far provinces and are not capable of going to see them personally. Prisoners are allowed and given 10-20mins everyday to chat or video call using Skype with their loved ones. 🙂

Meanwhile, BuCor  unveiled several short and long term measures to solve the problem of being over crowding of prisoners in the corrections.

Here are some of the pain-points of Bureau of Corrections:

  • Over crowding (106%)
  • Reformation issues
  • Recidivism (25%)
  • Personnel development
  • Drug problems at the facility

In 2011, 4,738 were admitted in the corrections. 25% of admissions are re-offenders and 20%  of re-offenders are back as drug offenders.

To address these issues, a budget is also being requested to provide better and renovated facilities to prevent over crowding. Pangilinan said the government will continue to enhance the programs infrastrature of he country’s several locations for the safekeeping of the prisoners.

The rehabilitation of the correction’s facilities is also in-progress. “The structural work, together with the reformative programs for the prisoners along with the personnel development will be achieved and hopefully completed over a timely manner,” Pangilinan said.

These steps to improved will be a great help for our prisoners. I am glad I was able to witnessed the combined efforts of our government led by Director Gaudencio Pangilinan and the prisoners. 🙂

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15 Comments

  1. it truly will be such a worthwhile experience to spend a day with our brothers in prison. i bet you heard a lot of interesting stories + witnessed a lot of spontaneous moment….if i were not too tied up my mothering duties i would’ve come to this event, too!

    thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  2. great share.. this is great news not only for those in prison, the prisoner’s love ones and for us filipinos.. this would help promote change to those inside.. I hope this went through and for a long time not just a short program but to be continued for the best..

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  3. This act by the BuCor is totally uplifting. It is important to remember that even those that are in prison should be treated equally, I’m happy to know that there are programs for them.

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  4. I think one of the reasons why our prisons are overcrowding because of the failed justice system. I saw a documentary about it years ago, yung ibang inmates hindi na updated ang kaso kasi walang pera pambayad ng lawyer. And for some, lagpas na sa sentence nila pero hindi pa rin sila napapalabas.

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    1. Hi Gene. Actually, some of them chose to just stay there kahit na tapos na ang sentence nila because they think they think wala na sila babalikan sa labas. and I think that documentary that you’re referring is outdated na. All assistance due for the inmates are provided to them accordingly. 🙂

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  5. sayang di ako nakasama that time medyo di kasi nag tugma yung sked eh.
    anyway im so happie na parang kahit papaano eh may kaunting pagbabago dito.
    natuwa ako kasi may sarili rin silang tv studio ang galing///

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  6. I am glad that BuCor has programs that will benefit the prisoners. They may have done wrong but still, they are humans and need to be treated as such. I just hope that totoo itong nangyayari and not just for press release sake.

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  7. sad reality is people tend to judge those sentenced when they get out of jail. Good thing the government still supports them when they face again the outside world and live a better life.

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  8. The first and last time I was here was during our College Sociology 101 class (1997), that time when Robin Padilla was an inmate…we did get to immerse with them with Robin even singing for us hihi. Back then, there may not be as much inmates as now and the programs were effective, glad though that they adopt to the changing times, kudos to the management…It’s not far from having the same commitment as Cebu’s dancing inmates…^_^

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  9. nice post!

    pero may tanong ako..,

    lahat ba ng bilanguan sa pilipinas ay ganyan ang sistema?
    esp.those provincial jails.. 🙂

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    1. Hi Lee! I’m honestly not sure kasi di pa naman ako nakaka visit sa mga provincial jails natin. But I’m sure, they’re getting there, too. 🙂

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