In 2011, then Senator Alan Peter Cayetano began a yearly commitment of celebrating his birthday with the inmates of the Metro Manila District Jail and the Taguig City District Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa. His reason for the annual visit is simple: he believes a person who is willing to change for the better has a chance in society. “My cause for the people in jail will continue each year as I get older,” he says.
“Most of our detainees, even when convicted, will not be sentenced to life imprisonment. So how do we help with their reintegration after they have served their time? We should give them the chance to make a living and become productive members of society in the future,” he says.
“How do we help them with their reintegration after they have served their time? We should give them the chance to make a living and become productive members of society.”
In November 2012, Alan launched “BILIB I.T.” – an information technology (IT) program designed to give detainees the necessary skills to rejoin the country’s workforce once they are released.
“We give them employable skills through the BILIB I.T. Program. We hope they will find new life when they leave detention, and never return to jail again. Through this, we also help solve the congestion of jails,” he adds.
The former House Speaker, in cooperation with Informatics and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), aims to maximize the reform and rehabilitation function of the country’s criminal justice system through this program.
Alan says the government should continue to strengthen the rehabilitative function of the Philippine correctional system by pushing for the establishment of an institutionalized education program for inmates.
“Providing education to criminal offenders is the key element for their effective rehabilitation. If we provide an effective educational mechanism, this will help inmates regain their self-esteem, strengthen their moral values, and improve their chances for a better life after prison,” he says.