Ateneo OSCI students visit Manila City Jail Male Dorm, Quezon City Jail Female Dorm for simultaneous orientation

Written by Ma. Luisa Bautista
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In order to orient the students from the Office for Social Concern and Issues (OSCI) of Ateneo de Manila University, HLAF tapped Manila City Jail Male Dorm and Quezon City Jail Female Dorm for the orientation about the Inmates Welfare and Development and immersion with interview of OSCI students with persons deprived of liberty (PDL). Twelve (12) students in total immersed themselves respectively to have intimate interview with the PDLs.

At Manila City Jail Male Dorm, HLAF Paralegal Officer, Mr. Juanito Vinluan, Jr, LL.B, RSW, with Ateneo OSCI Deputy, Ms. Mariella Besena, joined by JO3 Malou Telan, JO1 Ryna Sarino, four PDL Instructional Managers and 18 PDL Alternative Learning System beneficiaries for the jail activity. On the other hand, HLAF Jail Decongestion Program Manager, Atty. Aubree Sadural, HLAF Paralegal, Mr. Alfredo Alaras, together with Ms. Jeans Claveria from Ateneo OSCI.

For the immersion, the students had the opportunity to have intimate interview with the PDLs and expressed that they were able to learn different stories from the PDLs. They were also able to tour around the livelihood area where they were able to buy products produced by the PDLs. They also expressed their feedback on the immersion stating that it was a worthwhile experience.

The following are some of the questions asked by the students during the orientation.

Why are those beneficiaries of ALS don't particularly know about HLAF? And are they qualified to join Paralegal Aides?

Vinluan and JPO Telan: In this requested activity, MCJ, HLAF and Ateneo OSCI considers that, we have to focus on the development side of the PDLs, thus HLAF and MCJ agrees to select PDLs belonging to the beneficiaries of ALS. Most of this ALS members are not directly aware of the Paralegal work, although ALL of them underwent BOS of Paralegal Office, in matters of case follow up both MCJ JPO's and HLAF with Volunteers were doing the best we could do about the updates of cases. The center of intervention of HLAF- JD is about functionality, strengthening and support to the Jail Paralegal Officers. 

Ms. Telan also told them, "HLAF and MCJ could have been endorsed to OSCI those PLAides but the matter and projection of the outcome of interview is that the PDL will be asking about legal questions. Because it is what HLAF always do when they visit here in MCJ together with law students of Ateneo, UST, or San Beda, and you might be confused of their legal questions since you were not yet law students. For the question, are they qualified to join as PLAides, Yes, because in accordance of the BJMP Paralegal manual PDLs to join as PLAides should be at least high school graduates or college levels." 

The issue of lack of food was also shared and mentioned by the PDLs? Why is it lack of food in Jail?

Telan, Sarino: The MCJ Manila and other Jail Facilities under BJMP had been allotted with only Php60 per PDL. Thus, DILG has the sole authority and power to augment the recent budget to the DBM, for the food per PDL. There are lot of adjustments in Jail now that to be considered functional they have to raise budget allotment. In reality there are Jails that doesn't have budget for food at all, like in Police Station detention. But speaking with the DBM, it might be practical to them to allot budget with other Sectors and not supposedly with majority of those who commit violations. MCJ copes with the shortage of food, in respect with the Dalaw system it has a big help, BJMP allowed other PDL with a middle-income earning family to at least handle 2,000 of personal money also with the service providers and other sponsors.  And maybe with your (Ateneo OSCI participants) connections and family affiliations who are in the Government, you might share the experience of this immersion.

Why their cases took long? And whose coordination should it be?

Telan and Mr. Vinluan: It is because of lack of System in Court, they build courts without appointing enough nos. of men, and not just men but well trained personnels. It’s different with BJMP, though we are undermanned we keep our skills training, we outsource and welcome volunteers, we also train PDLs. It is also a factor of congestion of cases in Court of those repeat offenders, that after all our efforts in paralegal was made, they are back in jail. Likewise, Vinluan added, as we observed the hearing schedules the Trial Court were also congested with cases from those who availed bail. Courts are also lack Defense Lawyers from PAO, neither the Prosecutor. In a Trial, just 1 important body of the Court is missing most of the trial will be Reset. At a reasonable reset, there are instances of on-leave members of Court and their staffs who are with valid excuse such as health issues, seminars and or staff development.

We also ask about, is there a Tattoo gadget existing in their premise? And Why they have to mark their co-PDLs?

Vinluan, Telan: It is long ago and part of the prison/detention's culture Gang members mark their Juniors from outside and after 1 month of residency in MCJ they have to full pledge their gang members. It’s up to your research about the prison society. But now a days PDLs learned from their mistakes, the more they showed their affiliation the more they endanger their selves. that is why this facility had more Cuerna's or PDLs without tattoo or gang membership now. Thus, improvised tattoo cause health issues, and it’s a mandate now of BJMP to prohibit such practice of gang marking and affiliation, including prohibitions of those tattoo devices.

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