What went wrong in the Philippine Penitentiary

      It was before Duterte’s Presidency when I saw History Channel’s Lou Ferrante Documentary about Gang Life in Prison, it featured the infamous NBP(New Bilibid Prison), the country’s street gangs, etc., but what caught my attention was the lavish lifestyle of a notorious inmate known as JayBee Sebastian. The documentary showed how much power he had with his connections which were way up to the different branches of the government, these were later on revealed during a hearing in Congress.

Prostitution, cooking, and selling of illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, gambling, etc. All of these activities were apparently a norm inside NBP it’s like Disneyland for law-offenders who are expected to serve time as punishment for their crimes. Inmates have so much unproductive time which makes me ask, is the country’s correctional facility still doing its job to help integrate prisoners back to society once the time comes?

All of this has been finally brought out to the public thanks to the current leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte and his cabinet. What’s surprising about it is that the Documentary was released during 2013 it took 3 years later for someone from the government to act on it. Imagine if Duterte didn’t become the President what could have happened?… let that sink in for a while.

 Why did that take so long? I do not know, maybe out of fear or maybe responsible people turned a blind eye, I cannot blame them Imagine the connections of these hoodlums? They seemed unstoppable even if they are incarcerated. It scared me then It still scares me up to now, regardless of my anonymity.

Meanwhile 3000 kilometers from the Philippines, inmates wake up at 6:45 am stow their bedding, wash their faces, and use the loo, 7:00 am roll call, and room inspection, 7:30 am breakfast and movement to work location, 8:00 am prison industry begins, 10:00 am fifteen minute break, lunch begins a twelve, 14:00 pm another fifteen minute break, 16:40 pm industry stops, prisoners, return to their rooms, 17:00 pm roll call and prisoner inspection followed by “reflection time” 17:20 dinner, 18:00 FREE TIME 20:30 preparation for sleep 21:00 Sleep aside from the daily schedule inmates have two and a half hours of free time, food measured by your daily task, and constant marching when going to one place to the other, for what seemed to be a productive day for Japanese inmates meant hell for foreigners who were incarcerated in Japan. 

 Aside from the inmates’ daily task there are other rules of a Japanese penitentiary particularly Fuchu Prison located in a suburb of Tokyo, following these rules gives you privileges while disobeying means punishment. They are the proper placing of items inside the cell, writing only in specified notebooks, how to sit and stand, how to sleep, how to march, and how to speak and where to look. Basically comparable to automatons as one foreign inmate claims in a documentary about Life in a Japanese Prison.

I think that western nationalities even fellow Asian ones would really find this kind of system extremely rigid but according to the Chief of Fuchu Prison:

“Self-control, discipline, and order are essential to live in a group in Japan, This behavior is even compulsory in schools and companies It has nothing to do with the army, He also associates working seriously with working like a robot There is no relationship between being a robot and concentrating on your work. I think that, even in companies, idle chattering is forbidden. Furthermore developing serious working habits is necessary to become a good citizen. As an officer of this prison, I feel it is normal to train them in this way to allow them to rehabilitate themselves. Inside the prisons there are a lot of outlaws, to maintain discipline, security, and equality among prisoner, it is necessary to enforce very strict rules. A good discipline also allows education and effective treatment for the return of the prisoners into society. The prison officers don’t carry weapons, despite that majority of prisoners follow the rules. There is almost never any incident, like an escape, rebellion, rape or murder, In fact, officers treat the prisoners with consideration even if the treatment is strict. We succeed also because the officers are taking care of the prisoners’ health We are very careful about the living conditions, such as food, the clothing, the living space, health and hygiene I wanted to attract your attention to all that”

These are the words of Mr. Kanichiro Ishiwatari, Assistant to Director of Fuchu Prison, and after hearing this from the documentary I realized how correct this philosophy is about discipline, rehabilitating one’s self, and the enforcing strict rules to achieve goals.

I think this is what the Philippine Correctional facilities lack, a rigid system molding inmates into productive system prohibiting them from going back to their criminal life.

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