Ceres ‘in prison,’ recalled by jail superintendent
I read Ceres Doyo’s article titled “No ‘30’ for Sunday Inquirer Magazine” (Opinion, 12/11/14) where she featured the history and evolution of a magazine, including her varied exposures. She narrated that while she never asked for those exposures, the writer in her nevertheless appreciated whatever it was that came her way.
Every single incident is a significant material to a writer. I know because I am also a writer, though not in her league. I have a blog (in www.philippineprisons.com), an opinion column every now and then in some newstabs, but those are “sidelines,” more of a hobby. Ceres may get intrigued by my notes/blogs.
Ceres may still remember the days when she was part of the media pack hounding prison officers during the “execution days,” I mean, those days when a convict sentenced to death reached his personal dead end. She did not mention this in “No ‘30’”: that she witnessed the way death penalty was carried out through lethal injection. But I do. I remember her introducing herself as Inquirer writer Ceres Doyo, and asking me if I could oblige in giving her details on what the condemned man had for dinner before he was to be executed.
I was then prison superintendent, the designated executioner and at the same time chief public information officer. That was a decade and six years ago.
Since then, after the abolition of death penalty, I buried myself with prison routine, filling up my journal, which eventually became my blog site. Just like Ceres, I reminisce a lot and select columns for republication into a book. Just like Ceres, I write because I love writing, not because I’m compelled.
I am still in government and, yes, in my work we have met and since then my eyes never left her write-ups and books. Reading her Dec. 11 article in the Inquirer was like looking at myself in the mirror. The only difference there is that her writing is one style I have as yet to learn fully.
I have been in charge of the Davao Penal Colony since April 2007 when I was sent there to troubleshoot, after a group of rebels, believed to be a breakaway faction of the New People’s Army, raided the penal colony’s armory. Since then, I have become a mainstay of the Davao prison except for the six months sometime last year when I was recalled to temporarily head the New Bilibid Prison. Thereafter, I opted to retire but was prevailed upon to hang on and was reassigned back to the Davao Penal Colony.
Ceres will surely like the Davao Penal Colony. In 2007, after a few months at its helm, I, along with the prison leadership and the active women sector of Mindanao, were able to convince the Department of Justice to set up a correctional institute for women (CIW). It has now a population of 300. Organized in September 2007, it is the second facility for women offenders in the country (the first is the CIW in Mandaluyong City which was established in 1931).
—VEN J. TESORO,
prison superintendent IV,
Davao Prison and Penal Farm,
Bureau of Corrections
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