The Philippine Justice System, Lawyers
and General State of Rehabilitation Facilities
Ni Apolinario Villalobos
A crucial change in the life of a man may be caused by being at the right place at the right time or by having guts to face odds rejected by others. For the lawyer in particular, these are what he needs to prosper with his profession. Too much risk is involved with the thought, “now or never”, that serves as the force that pushes the desirous lawyer towards his ambition to be recognized.
“Sensation” is the keyword for the success of a lawyer. This is the reason why, a lawyer always aspires to handle a case that hugs the limelight, never mind if it seems a losing one due to glaring evidences against the client. The more controversial the case is, the better for the lawyer, because he will benefit from the attention that his client will get.
As dictated by the law books, no person is guilty unless proven beyond doubt. This is the reason why the eyes of the Lady Justice are covered because before the court, both victim and the aggressor are equal, and each side should present convincing evidences to win the case. Woe then, to the innocent client who can only afford an inexperienced lawyer with limited references. On the other hand, the obviously guilty party easily avoids conviction with the help of well-paid “expert” and “seasoned” lawyers.
Philippine prisons are filled to the rafters with erroneously convicted victims of injustice due to their inability to get the right lawyer to defend them, and worse, inability to get one due to their poverty. Despite this glaring defect in the justice system of the Philippines that contributes to the bursting of rehabilitation facilities, the national government remained inept…reacting only when scandals erupt, such as the affluent lifestyle of convicts at the maximum security section of the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa which has become an embarrassing national issue.
The rest of rehabilitation facilities, except for penal farms, are in the same situation. Practically all of them suffer from want of decent sanitation facilities. Inmates take turns in sleeping on the floor, while the rest remain on their feet for the rest of the night. Diseases add to the miseries of the inmates, with some, not yet convicted. And the food rations are far from decent.
Rich inmates buy their comfort by bribing corrupt jail guards and officers. Drug trafficking is still operated by drug lords from the maximum security section of the national penitentiary, and prostitution proliferates with the blessing of the paid jail guards. It is only in the Philippines where one can find detention cells inside maximum security section yet, of the national penitentiary, furnished akin to a richy home, complete with spa, jacuzzi, home theater, and aircon units.
When Kabungsuan Makilala, a jail guard of the Bureau of Correction, exposed the anomalies inside the national penitentiary, nothing came out of information extracted from him. A minor change in guards was implemented to show that something is being done. Afterwards there was a deafening lull within the Department of Justice.
It was only when a committee of Congress charged with the programs for the country’s rehabilitation facilities exposed their shock on the state of the national penitentiary, did the Department of Justice (DOJ) again made noise, most especially, because the modernization budget of the facilities is at stake. When the Senate stepped into the picture, the DOJ showed its most convincing move by launching “surprise” inspections, but without de Lima having made threats against the NBP officials on TV, thereby, broadcasting their moves!
Finally, despite the scandalous discoveries made lately, the DOJ statements as regards its plans to rid the country’s rehabilitation facilities of corrupt officials and lower ranking employees are still wanting of sting. With the budget for the modernization of the country’s rehabilitation facilities already in the bag, one can’t help but expect many pockets to bulge.