Corruption deeply rooted in prison system | Inquirer Opinion
LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Corruption deeply rooted in prison system

/ 04:10 AM November 28, 2022

I agree with Ceres P. Doyo’s observations in her column, “Prison movies and other ruminations,” (11/25/22).

I recall the sad plight of a friend and former client who is serving two indeterminate sentences of 14 years for two counts of illegal possession and illegal manufacturing of firearms.

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He was a Cebuano gunsmith who established a popular gun range and repair shop in Las Piñas. Unfortunately, he earned the ire of a licensed dealer/distributor of a branded pistol, which he was able to clone. He was raided by the National Bureau of Investigation, hauled to court, and jailed before the Supreme Court affirmed his conviction in 2014.

His family remembered that during their Christmas visits to Bilibid, my friend would always give them a boxful of oranges/ponkan or apples and grapes. They were surprised that their inmate would be the one to give them pasalubong instead of the other way around.

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They found out that Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) guards and employees sell boxes of fruits to inmates in Bilibid on a “pa-lista” basis. Inmates are chosen randomly and simply assigned a box of fruits, which are considered sold: “Oca, isang kahon sa iyo” or “isang kahon kay Tonton.” Inmates cannot refuse, otherwise they will be continuously pestered with errands and some of their privileges will be withdrawn.

Sometimes, BuCor guards would call him out and question him “Oca, cell phone ba yang bumubukol sa bulsa mo?” They would then search him and upon discovering no mobile phone on his body; they would offer him, “Kung gusto mo ng cell phone na may SIM card, sabihan mo lang ako ha.”

I guess corruption is really deeply rooted in our prison system, but it is not monopolized by prison guards because majority of BuCor civilian employees are also involved in “illegal trade” and “parole fixing” of prospective parole applicants. Fees are required if an inmate wanted his parole papers placed on top of the heap of applications. Meanwhile, the BuCor chief and his wards feast on the budget for meals by cutting the allocations and redirecting them to entertainment and so-called maintenance and other operating expenses.

These are some of the things that are happening behind the walls of Bilibid, undocumented and untraceable, such that the appointees are given a wide latitude of plausible deniability.

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TAGS: Bureau of Corrrections, Letters to the Editor, prison system corruption
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