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Corruption in Corruection

This whole mess started with the issue on former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez supposedly set to be released from incarceration, which begged the question, “what happened to reclusion perpetua?”. (This reminded us 90’s kids of that sensational Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez case. That poor college girl who was raped and murdered; not sparing her boyfriend. This appalled us along with a series of similar cases: Hultman, Vizconde and those massacres which were made into movies starring Kris Aquino.) They said it was due to some good conduct. Then I thought, maybe the guy has been good behind bars; cut him some slack. Then reports were shown on the former mayor’s incidents of misbehavior inside prison which included drug possession among others. Okay, throw good conduct out the window. I figured, let’s not dwell too long on that. Maybe they made a mistake on including the convicted former mayor’s name on the candidates for good conduct. Now, they’re rectifying the mistake. (Although at the back of a suspicious Filipino’s mind who has been accustomed on the dynamics of Philippine political culture, red flags are raising.) I thought, they made a mistake, they realized their mistake; they’re willing to set it straight. Let’s move on.

But that issue spawned probe on the good conduct time allowance program of the bureau. The President himself recalled a large number of beneficiaries – released convicts. I feel sorry for these guys. I just think most are sincere in turning a new leaf. They could have hidden or run off out the country; but they voluntarily turned themselves in. In my opinion, by principle, it would not be their fault. If the government made mistakes or engaged in anomalies, that’s their problem. These former convicts were released based on legitimate policy. Why should they pay and suffer for somebody else’s exploitation? If a fast food crew dispenses more French fries than should be given to a customer, it wouldn’t be the latter’s fault, making him/her free from any accountability. Say, the fast food cashier charges a hundred orders of large fries for the price of small, the cashier would be the one to face the consequences, not the customers who merely complied with given policies.

Then there was this expose on several inmates being transferred to the AFP detention center. (When I heard about that, I thought, “what’s the deal? They’re detained nonetheless. But the said inmates would testify against Senator de Lima (who lest we forget, is also an imate); and there are talks that their transfer are intended to orient them on their responses on the witness stand, or something towards ensuring the conviction of the persecuted senator.

Now, it’s all a ridiculous ruckus, worse than a can of worms, it’s Pandora’s pandemonium there. Yes, I know, the state really gathered the worst of Filipino society in one community, what do we expect? But is it not supposed to be a bureau of “corrections”? I thought inmates make miniature wooden ships inside liquor bottles, or oversized pencils out of fluorescent lamps? I thought they hold Bible studies and born-again Christian worship services along with the occasional riots and homosexual acts. It seems they have institutionalized corruption in there. Aside from the good conduct time allowance being for sale, allegedly and reportedly there has been “tilapia (allowing female entertainers for a fee),” prolonged conjugal visits, hospital passes for sale, kidnap-for-ransom activities, drug trafficking, among others. Why can’t they be like their kosas in Cebu and dance to a Michael Jackson song? (Do they still do that today?)

In a TV interview, Sen. Ping Lacson who chairs the senate inquiry expressed his sentiments in saying something like, given the extent of corruption, how do we revert the system to its normal state? Or is it irreversible that we have to tear down the present system and start anew for a cleaner one? In the institution of correction, corruption has become the culture. Corruption has constructed its own community. Every component seems to constitute a complex of corruption. In conflict and contradiction, the institution which is committed to correction is in itself, is covered and comprised of corruption. What them shall become of correction? What would be corrected when correction contains corruption? What would be corrected when the process of correction is rid of corruption? Fear and frustration grips me that when the eventual exit comes, no correction has happened, but those who should have been corrected have converted to far worse crookedness and corruption. Then, what shall become of this nation? If the institution for correction is actually a center of production for corruption which would converge with the social convention to be in combination with the corrupt in the community, and train conscripts for the continuation of corruption? Chaos and confusion!

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Proverbs 29:2

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