No, they are not working on a chain gang! Although that may well have been a much better option than to experience the now outlawed Wheel of Torture. Some police stations had a Wheel of Torture, which they subjected prisoners who had committed heinous crimes and others who were drug traffickers. Spin the wheel and see what we get to do to you today! 20 Pacman. That is 20 seconds of being punched, as close as possible to what Manny would deliver!
No more Wheel of Torture and every jail was, and still is, being searched without advanced notice, by a team of PNP officers to ensure the humane treatment of prisoners. A number of law enforcement officers in Philippine jails have been dismissed due to the Wheel of Torture and other abuses.
I was a law enforcement officer for almost 5 years and it is sometimes difficult not to get caught up in some extra-judicial punishment in the heat of the moment, although I am in no way advocating or justifying such. Several years ago in a city in the Philippines, two pedicab drivers were arrested and jailed for raping and strangling a lovely little 9 year old girl. These guys were animals! They were given dirty jobs in the jail, such as emptying urinals from the jail cells.
One evening, one among the two attempted to snatch a PNP officer's sidearm as he escorted them to do their job. Without hesitation, another PNP officer shot and killed the one wrestling with the other officer. The other pedicab driver tried the same thing but was also shot dead. Of course both officers were placed on Administrative Leave and placed under investigation. The Mayor of the City stated that both PNP officers deserved a medal of the highest order! Some people cry out about Human Rights violations. What about the little girl, who was savagely raped and strangled? What about her parents and other family members?
Did anyone cry out about their Human Rights?
Engaging in business that is in direct competition with Filipinos can land you behind bars. Especially if you do not have the proper Philippine visa, all the permits and all the paperwork completely in order. Some competitors will just have you whacked and that is the end of it but others will use any legal means possible to put you out of business. Even if it means hiring liars! Engaging in an employment recruiting agency is highly risky, as many Filipinos have engaged in this business for years and you will not be welcomed with open arms!
There have been more than one expat bar owner who was “set up!” Planting a female minor with a fake ID to work as a GRO, Guest Relations Officer, in your bar is a quick way to have your bar shut down. And you will be sitting behind bars! In the Philippines, this is a human trafficking offense and it is very serious. As a bar owner, you must be 100% positive that all the ladies working in your bar are legal adults. A GRO with a fake ID is not an accepted defense in a court of law.
Straight Path Behind The Fence
During the first few years of the current Administration, The Bureau of Corrections continued to present problems. Some inmates were allowed to buy their freedom and were not even required to actually be in a prison, despite their sentences. There was rampant illegal drug trade inside the prisons. The Assistant Director of the Bureau was ambushed and shot dead in his car while on his way home one evening. Something had to give and it had to be soon! With more than 37,000 inmates in the country, prison reform was long overdue.
Republic Act Number 10575 was filed, voted on, signed and now Law!
Professionalism, Reformation and Modernization
New Corrections Officers are required to possess a 4 year degree and they must pass a psychiatric/psychological exam and a physical exam. New Corrections Officers cannot have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or other crimes. For incumbent Bureau of Corrections personnel without the required educational and eligibility, the new law requires them to obtain the minimum educational and eligibility within 5 years.
Under the new law, inmates can now be assured that they will receive the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, decent quarters, clothing, food and water. Importance is placed on the inmates education, livelihood development and their moral and spiritual welfare.
An actual Training Academy for Corrections Officers is in the works! The PMA, Philippine Military Academy is already recognized in Asia as a fine training facility for military officers and the PCA, or whatever the final name will be, can also be a great training academy.
Yes, the times are changing in the Philippines Bureau of Corrections, however, if you decide to visit for awhile, do not expect it to be the Century Park Sheraton. You can check out any time you like but you won't be leaving anytime soon! The Judicial System is still backlogged and will be for years to come.
In my daily interactions with many expats who have retired to the Philippines and to those who are spending quality time here, hardly a day goes by that at least one is not looking for ways to circumvent laws in the Philippines! Whether it be about engaging in businesses and setting up dummy corporations, buying land, Immigration issues or other ventures, it is just not worth it!
It has been said that everything is legal in the Philippines until you get caught! All it takes is one whistle blower, someone you pissed off or one suffering from crab mentality, to turn you in. It will not always be a Filipino, either, but someone you actually know and think you know well!
Whatcha gonna do?
This is the second in a two part series of articles on the Philippine prison system. You can read the first part of the series here.