New Bilibid Prison Visit, Part 1: BuCor’s Mandate and Reformation Program

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:36

Panoramic view of  Bureau of Corrections’ Maximum Security Compound

There are different kinds of people who are in need. But for some reason, Jesus made sure to include those in prison, in that summon for us to reach out to. It was from 2002 to 2004 when our church family were given the opportunity to minister to brothers-in-Christ in New Bilibid Prison’s Maximum Security. My uncle who is a pastor was the one who led our group as we reached out to the local prisoners here. My uncle has been actively involved in Prison Ministry in Texas, USA, for a while now.

At the Bureau of Corrections’ Conference Room

We used to visit the Bureau of Corrections’ Maximum Security Compound every so often. Particularly, the ministries two of my uncles and our church supported, Paaralan Ng Buhay (Bible School) and Amazing Grace Ministries. Last week, I  had the opportunity to have a glimpse of the the New Bilibid Prisons yet again, this time from the point of view of Director of the Bureau of Corrections‘ himself,  Gaudencio Pangilinan.

There was not a time I left BuCor unchanged. But this time around, I went in to see BuCor in whole different perspective. Director Pangilinan shared with us the committed mandate of Bucor for its prisoners:safekeeping and reformation.”  As with my previous visits, I stepped in the Maximum Security compound with confidence. I will always remember the hospitality of these inmates whenever we came to visit from years before. We would always be welcomed with inmates donned with umbrellas to make sure we were comfortably ushered. As per the director’s words, “this is the safest place you can ever be in Metro Manila.” They are always in need for someone to visit them. While the place might not be a place of gloom like it used to be, there is still no place like being home with family and loved ones.

  • Safekeeping : Keep offenders off the streets
  • Reformation: Ensure that released inmates are productive, healthy and less likely to be in conflict with the law.
  • Restorative Justice:One recidivist less is one crime less.”

This time around, there were no umbrellas. Instead, there were a few golf carts to tour us around the Maximum Security Compound.  Cool! These golf carts were made by the inmates themselves.

Director Gaudencio Pangilinan
Director Gaudencio Pangilinan shared with us the Six Imperatives of Reformation:
  1. Health Care Program
  2. Education and Skills Development
  3. Livelihood and Livelihood Training
  4. Moral and Spiritual Enlightenment 
  5. Sport and Recreation Program
  6. Behavioral Modification

New Bilibid Prison Hospital

I saw for myself that these are addressed when we went to see the facilities of the Maximum Security compound. Although, health care might not be topnotch, they had decent enough receiving areas for ill prisoners.

Alternative Learning System

Group of Artists Gallery and Art Workshop

Talented inmates are encouraged to hone their skills in their chosen craft. Kuya here is using this “”burn method” type of painting. I’m really not sure how it is technically called.

The above unfinished Mother & Child painting is what the inmate artist was working on when we dropped by the Artist Gallery and Workshop.

 

Here are more of the artworks of the talented inmates of New Bilibid Prison’s Maximum Security Compound

Outstanding works of art, if you ask me.

Another mother & child masterpiece

With all the improvements I have witnessed that day, I was beyond impressed. I was totally not expecting to see the progress of everything in the maximum security since the last time I was there to visit.  Director Pangilinan also presented the challenges that Bureau of Corrections is currently facing.

  • Outdated 1917 law
  • Low prison guard to inmates ratio –
  • Reformation Program
  • Modernization Bill & 10 year Road Map
  • Inmate records management
  • Transfer of NBP

Amazing Grace Ministries. This is where we used to go whenever we came to visit years ago.

While the fact that we were in the midst of these offenders, who are sentenced with life, cannot be downplayed, they remain social beings with human needs. The urgency of these challenges faced by Bureau of Corrections are as real as they can get. As for me and our church family, we are encouraged to go back and be involved again as we resume the prison ministryI believe in my heart that reformation comes from a real change of heart. And a change of heart can only come with true repentance. Otherwise, recidivism is but inevitable.

Watch out for the Part 2 of My New Bilibid Prison Visit.  It will be of BuCor’s Munti Paraiso Foundation, Bilibid TV3 and E-Dalaw. All of which have a lot to do with the building up of the morale of the inmates of the New Bilibid Prison.

New Bilibid Prison Visit, Part 1: BuCor’s Mandate and Reformation Program
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