by Lorigen M. Paterno and Venus R. Parmisana
To introduce students to jurisprudence, the penal system and Human Rights, the Political Science and CWTS classes together with the faculty members of the Political Science Department visited the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) at Barangay Tipanoy, Iligan City, last March 20, 2010.
The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Cluster of the Civic Welfare Training Services and the PolSci Department has annually visited the prison facilities.
This year, one hundred seventy four students from six classes led by Prof. Elaine Baulete, Department Chairperson, met the inmates at the BJMP. With faculty members Yasmira P. Moner, Eucil P. Hussien, and Lorigen M. Paterno, the group interacted with inmates who were on their “Spring Break” (the term refers to the inmates’ approved daily activity when they take turns spending time a day outside their cells).
Interviewed by Paterno, Gerry (not his real name) confessed that people were afraid to visit them in jail because of the impression that the prisoners “will eat them (the people) alive.” Gerry later showed the visitors the prisoners’ projects.
In her impression, Paterno wrote: “as a Human Rights advocate and teacher, I have always taught my students the importance of respecting the rights of others. I have emphasized that even those convicted of crimes have their rights because they are humans. Even the 1987 Philippine Constitution acknowledges this fact.”
One student commented, “I never expected the inmates to be nice and sad. (They are) sad because they do not get a lot of visits from the outside world. I would like to take part in another jail visit next year.”
The visitors were accommodated by Jail Warden Valentino Coderias who joined the group for photo ops after the visit.