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The New Bilibid Prison: Is justice truly served?

Updated on April 13, 2015

Justice is for all. Whether you are rich or poor, male or female, everyone should be treated equally. In legal terms, it more specifically refers to the supreme obligation to ensure that all persons are treated fairly. Laws are enacted to certify that no man violates the rights of others. Anyone who violates the law will be put to judgment in the court and when proven guilty, will be imprisoned for a period of time, depending on the graveness of the crime committed.

In the Philippines, the New Bilibid Prison is the main penitentiary where it is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections under the Department of Justice. As of this year, there are about forty thousand inmates housed inside the prison. Some of these inmates are high profile prisoners who live in special jail houses in the maximum security compound.

As of this year, there are about forty thousand inmates housed inside the prison.
As of this year, there are about forty thousand inmates housed inside the prison. | Source
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New Bilibid Prisons, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila, Philippines
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Aerial View of the Penitentiary.

Last December of the year 2014, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, along with officials of the Bureau of Corrections, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police-Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, Commission on Human Rights, and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission raided the New Bilibid Prison following reports of illegal drug trade behind bars. Authorities found much more than illegal drugs. The raid exposed the luxurious lifestyle of at least 20 inmates as police found over P1 million in cash, illegal drugs, firearms, flat screen TVs, sex toys, a stripper bar, a jacuzzi, and a state-of-the-art recording studio inside the premises.

Herbert Colanggo is one of the VIP inmates of Bilibid Prison who was allegedly enjoying a lavish lifestyle while serving their jail terms. Colanggo recorded his music video inside the maximum security compound of the country’s largest penitentiary. The music video was even posted on his official YouTube account and had already gone viral after the controversial convict was involved in the latest raid conducted.

The video below was filmed inside the prison and was uploaded on YouTube by Herbert Colanggo himself.

Herbert Colanggo is a crime lord sentenced to 12 to 14 years after being convicted for leading one of the Philippines' bloodiest bank robberies in 2009 that left 10 people dead.

Why does he have the privilege to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle inside the penitentiary when he should be paying for the crimes he has committed? Is there really justice for the innocent people who have died in his cause? What difference does he have to a man jailed to compensate for accidentally killing a man? Nothing. They are both considered criminals for violating the law. Then what makes him special from most of the inmates who crowd in small jail cells? He is wealthy. In these times, money could buy almost everything. Even justice.

Albert Einstein once said, “In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.” In the case of Herbert Colanggo, injustice is evident. But no one could do anything about this matter except the Government which is authorized to change this biased system.

The only thing that could help attain true justice is conscience for according to the prophet Mahatma Gandhi, “There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.”

“Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose, they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) In the case of the justice system in the New Bilibid Prison, it failed to warrant the purpose of law. It instead gave way to injustice. True justice could not be attained unless there is a change in the system, where only the poor suffer and the rich go on with their lives inside the prison. In order for the Philippines to have social progress, the structured dams, which are the special jail houses inside the prison, must be abolished, and that is when Filipinos could enjoy their right to justice.

Should the special jail houses be abolished from the New Bilibid Prison?

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