Archive for the ‘jail’ Category

Widening gap of justice, abuse of presidential pardons, & the poor who are left in jail

March 20, 2009

It has been said that about 3 out of 4 prisoners in the Philippines are victims of judicial errors Many of them are poor and vulnerable. They are forced to admit guilt so that they can move to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) where food and living conditions are better than the crowded jails in the country. Poor prisoners in other penal colonies languish longer and are treated badly during incarceration than their rich counterparts, making the public believe justice in the country is a farce.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag (ex-prisoner)

The widening gap of justice truly exists in the country, but almost no one complains about it. In this backdrop Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo commuted the two life terms of Romeo Jalosjos for raping an 11 year old girl in 1996. For his horrible crime which include lascivious acts, the Zamboanga del Norte congressman who shows no remose, enjoyed extensive prison privileges while in jail for only 13 years. Jalosjos put his money and influence to full use—-building a tennis court, a gym, and bakery in the NBP.

These “benevolent actions” by Jalosjos which led to the shortening of his prison stay can’t escape the scrutiny of Emmi de Jesus, secretary-general of the militant women-group Gabriela, who sees gross errors in how justice is carried out. De Jesus who believes Jalosjos’ pardon is a payback to the political help given to Pres. Arroyo said:

“Marso ngayon ano, supposedly Buwan ng Kababaihan. Mukhang ito yung mockery of justice na binibigay ni Ginang Arroyo. Walang remorse, walang pag-amin sa kasalanan niya (Jalojos). Paano na yung mga kababaihan na humihingi ng katarungan na ngayon ay vulnerable sa various forms of violence?” .

[Jalosjos’ release, which happens this Women’s Month, seemed to be a mockery of justice by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. (Convicted rapist) neither showed remorse nor admission of guilt. What about the welfare of the women who are vulnerable to various forms of violence?]—GMA TV News (03/19/09, Dedace, SM)

Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III is alarmed by President Arroyo‘s exercise of presidential clemency which leads to more rich and powerful inmates being set free. Palawan Representative Abraham Mitra also airs the same concern when he urged Arroyo to use executive pardon “judiciously and carefully.”

But politics and favor-peddling have a lot to do with these kinds of decision. It is easy to understand that a prisoner who donates infrastructures in a prison compound may have motives beyond being altruistic. Special treatment is one thing that rich detainees can work on so they get protection from their friends in the system. It’s one of the easiest ways to cultivate influence and get the graces of prison officials.

After a tedious and costly court battle that eventually convicted Pres. Joseph Estrada of plunder, Arroyo wasted no time in pardoning the felon—a decision that continues to divide and hurt the entire nation. Estrada didn’t serve in a traditional jail, but in a well-furnished comfortable seclusion.

In total disregard of the gravity of the crime and the unresolved questions related to the Ninoy Aquino-Rolando double murder case, Gloria freed the 10 remaining military men convicted of the airport murders. Since 1983, few Filipinos took genuine heart on the significance of Ninoy’s death, ignoring the loss and suffering of the country under Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. Like Jalosjos and Estrada, the 10 convicts in Ninoy’s assassination never expressed guilt or remorse— basic requisites of pardon.

Mostly left in the crowded prisons are the poor and those who have no influence in lording over the weaknesses of the corrupt system. Many are young and defenseless. Filipinos who disdain the unpopular president can only express their cynicism and apathy towards the poor state of the penitentiary. They feel they can’t do anything about the injustice that goes on there. (Phtoto Credit: Suntoksabuwan; planetradio x 2) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?” Posted by mesiamd at 12/19/2008; “Pardon and (In)justice: Ninoy’s killers freed” Posted by mesiamd at 3/05/2009


90% of RP crimes are solved in less than 1 year: a lie that can make you cry?

December 19, 2008

When I read that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Jesus Versoza on Thursday announced that about 90% of crimes in the country had been solved in less than year, I thought it was a typo error. But I made sure I was not reading it wrong.

In a press conference after a closed door command conference with key PNP officials, Verzosa said that of the 62,148 crime incidents reported in 11 months, 89.43 percent have been solved.”—-Inquirer, (12/17/08, Kwok, A)

I was convinced that this is inconsistent to the crime profile of the country that I know. What does “solving a crime” mean to the PNP director? What are the “crime incidents” is he referring to? In my book solving a crime means investigating a case, recognizing the criminal, ascertaining his complicity, bringing him to court, having him serve jail time if guilty, and rehabilitating him to be a responsible citizen before he is released from jail. The process definitely takes longer than a year.

The PNP director is probably lying. I couldn’t comprehend how a top government official has that gall to misinform the public at the expense of himself, the military, and the country. The motto of the police is service, honor and justice. Is he the corruption that has run wild in the military service?


One can discern the hard reality from personal experience or by doing a little reading. Many crimes go unreported. I know there are many journalists being killed without resolution of their cases. They are part of a large group of crime victims that range from a gamut of circumstances—from simple robbery to mass murder. The US State Department report on the human rights record of the Philippines in 2006, had the following was reported:

“During the year there were a number of arbitrary, unlawful, and extrajudicial killings apparently by elements of the security services and of political killings, including killings of journalists, by a variety of actors. Many of these killings went unsolved and unpunished, contributing to a climate of impunity, despite intensified government efforts during the year to investigate and prosecute these cases.

Members of the security services committed acts of physical and psychological abuse on suspects and detainees, and there were instances of torture. Arbitrary or warrantless arrests and detentions were common. Trials were delayed and procedures were prolonged. Prisoners awaiting trial and those already convicted were often held under primitive conditions.

Corruption was a problem in all the institutions making up the criminal justice system, including police, prosecutorial, and judicial organs. During a brief “state of emergency” in February, there was some attempted interference in freedom of the press and in the right of assembly.

In addition to the killings mentioned above, leftwing and human rights activists were often subject to harassment by local security forces. Problems such as violence against women and abuse of children, child prostitution, trafficking in persons, child labor, and ineffective enforcement of worker rights were common.” (US State Department) Philippines: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (03/06/07)


The report about prisoners in the Philippines is telling. Raymond Narag, a law student served 7 years in detention for murder which he never committed. He later worked as consultant on prison reform in the Philippine Supreme Court (SC.) According to him, 3 out of 4 prisoners (77%) in the Philippines are victims of judicial error. The average pre-sentencing detention is 3.2 years. Jailbirds are forced to plead guilty to escape hardships in detention in favor of being in the National Penitentiary where the conditions are better.

“Inmates are dying in our city jails at an alarming rate. They are suffering from boils, tuberculosis, chicken pox and other simple but highly communicable diseases. In the Quezon City Jail alone, there are two to five deaths per month. The sad fact is that they are dying before being sentenced.” —Raymond Narag

Quezon City Jail was built for only 815 detainees. Now, it houses about 3,400 inmates. This means that each prisoner has 0.28 sq2 m of living space which is way below the 3 sq2 m per person the United Nations considers the minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners.” —PIME; (10/22/04, Evangelista, S)


I have no reason to believe that the data above have drastically changed for the better this year. I haven’t heard of any evidence to the contrary. Instead, I recall my dead brother Henry who died from vehicular injuries without retribution on those who sold fake drugs that caused his demise. He was left in Naga City jail for hours without medical attention on a wrong assumption that his stupor was due to drunkenness, not from the brain damage from his injury. At least one doctor in Bicol Medical Center was complicit in peddling the counterfeit medicine.

I remember my friend’s mom, a widow who was stabbed by a robber while walking home after a day’s work in a Quezon City bakery. The sole witness of her slay was himself a victim of unsolved political disappearance, a case unrelated to the murder. My first cousin Orly was killed in a traffic accident in Manila by a hit-and-run driver. No one went to jail for these crimes. They were among at least 10 people I knew who died; their cases remained cold for more than a decade. I don’t know of a single heinous crime in the Philippines that had been solved. So can you see why I don’t believe General Versoza? How about you?(Photo Credits:; ronaldhackson;; planetradio; planetradio; ace_kupal)

RELATED BLOGS: “Journalist killings continue” Posted by mesiamd at 12/09/08; ” Another gruesome journalist’s slay” Posted by mesiamd at 11/17/2008; “When they start telling us we’re unworthy of help” Posted by mesiamd at 12/16/2008; ” On Philippine Corruption And Our Being Inure To It” Posted by myty555 at 12/16/2008; “Rising Road Accidents” Posted by mesiamd at 10/27/2008


Davao jailbirds in an April 2009 concert

December 6, 2008

Fr. Hermes Sabud, the Catholic chaplain of the Archdiocese Commission on Prison Welfare (ACPW) has a good idea. He has a plan of transforming jailbirds into songbirds. He’s readying to showcase the singing talents Davao Jail in a concert slated on April 4, 2009.

The remarkable show is to benefit the activities of the prison ministry. Just like the Cebu Provincial Jail dancers who entertained their audience with sometimes funny choreographed routines, the singers will do their job with music.

The unusual Davao concert is a timely invitation to all Filipinos to appreciate people’s talents. They can be found in seemingly unlikely places. In prison, a self-help fund-raising by those detained is commendable. Rather than staying idle in congested cells with little hope for social integration and improvement, the prisoners, in their incarceration, have a chance to harness their time and energy for a useful purpose. (Photo Credit: Andy Maluche: Melibinux)=0=