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
“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. 🙂