"Prisoners in city and municipal jails are living in sub-human conditions."
Santa Banana, in a few days, I will be 92!
Truth to tell, I never expected to live this long. With God’s grace I still enjoy a comparatively clear mind and sound body. I can still pound on my typewriter three times a week to write this column.
I’ve been through a lot. I experienced World War II, which meant four years of Japanese occupation. I saw the best and worst of Filipinos fighting the enemy.
I have been a journalist for almost 70 years. I have seen history in the making, and sometimes I was even part of it. I covered 10 presidents and walked the corridors of power, rubbing elbows with the greats and near-greats. I married the woman of my dreams and sired a lovely family. What more can a man ask?
I just finished writing my memoirs and it will be published in November, courtesy of Manila Standard and Martin Romualdez. I’d like to thank my publisher, Rollie Estabillo, and two wonderful ladies Adelle Chua, opinion editor, and Jenny Ortuoste, columnist and Palanca awardee, who helped me finish my book.
* * *
The Senate honored last Tuesday the late Dr. George S.K.Ty, founder and chairman of Metrobank, for his philanthropic contributions to the country. It is a tribute well-deserved.
The Senate adopted a resolution introduced by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to posthumously honor Ty for the work he had done to improve the lives of many Filipinos.
Ty trailblazed the way to corporate compassion and social responsibility. He established Metrobank Foundation as an instrument to share the benefits of Metrobank’s successes.
Under Ty, Metrobank Foundation became the biggest and most trusted corporate philanthropic organization in the country. It has implemented various initiatives in pursuit of its mission to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, accelerate social development and promote excellence among key sectors of the economy.
We all know that even with Ty’s demise last year, his lifelong mission to improve the lives of others continued through his wife Mary, sons Arthur and Alfred, and daughters Anjanette and Alessandra.
Metrobank was known for sponsoring an annual contest naming outstanding soldiers, policemen and teachers. In fact, I was once among the panel of judges for the search for the most outstanding teacher.
I believe that whatever profession one takes, the tutelage of selfless teachers cannot be forgotten. Teachers are a vital foundation of nation-building.
Indeed, Dr. Ty is a modern hero and nation builder.
* * *
As the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee digs deeper into the corruption at the Bureau of Corrections, there are more and more skeletons being unearthed. Now it’s the hospital-pass-for-sale scheme, which allows moneyed convicts to stay in the hospital so long as they can afford to pay P30,000 to P50,000 per day.
The BuCor could be one of the most notoriously corrupt agencies in government!
Government corruption, as I often say, will continue to exist so long as there is room for human discretion and intervention. This is why I believe that the President’s war on corruption is an exercise in futility.
Duterte may be able to reduce corruption if he were sincere about it, but completely eradicating it is a near-impossible task.
Was this not shown very clearly in the release of national penitentiary prisoners who had been convicted of heinous crimes?
In other agencies, public officials and employees have their own way of making money. At Customs, there is human discretion in the valuation of imports, on what should and should not be allowed. At the Bureau of Internal Revenue, so long as officials are given the discretion to assess and value revenue payments, there will always be corruption.
And if President Duterte continues his practice of installing retired military and police officials in sensitive government agencies, there will always be corruption.
* * *
I would also like to see an investigation into city and municipal jails. They are so decrepit, and prisoners are living in sub-human conditions. This could be a bigger issue because it covers jails nationwide.
Perhaps Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra should study the merits of relocating the New Bilibid Prison. Years before, a deal was already in the works, with several proposals to move the penitentiary to Laur, Nueva Ecija. I wonder what happened to this plan.
Relocation is good not only to decongest the prisons, but to isolate drug lords and other hardened criminals from ordinary convicts.
All Secretary Guevarra has to do is visit the Quezon City jail.