BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—While prisoners in other parts of the country spend their time idly in overcrowded jails, inmates at the provincial government-managed provincial jail here use their precious time to pursue their elementary and secondary education while engaging in other livelihood projects.
“In fact, they are providing much for their family needs and learn while serving their penalty inside the provincial jail,” provincial jail warden Fernando Pasion, a retired army colonel, told Manila Standard.
In 2014, transformation programs for the inmates started with the introduction of vegetable gardening as an alternative source of income among them. It also served to augment the food supply for more than 200 prisoners at the provincial jail.
During harvests, inmates—accompanied by their guards—peddle their vegetable products to provincial government employees and officials.
To maximize their idle time, the provincial jail entered a partnership with the Department of Education to conduct the Alternative Learning System program among the prisoners willing to pursue their primary and secondary education.
At least 18 inmates have completed their schooling through the ALS program.
“We are proud to see them in their togas and accepting their certificates of graduation. We are surprised that they themselves showed interest and commitment to learn and change for the better,” Pasion said.
The inmates received certificates and diplomas bearing the DepEd seal signed by the secretary of Education, certifying their competencies as comparable to graduates of the formal school system.
The ALS beneficiaries were also recognized by the DepEd and the provincial government after passing the Accreditation and Equivalency Test for elementary and high school levels.
School officials of barangays Magsaysay, Vista Hills, Magapuy, Paitan, Ammococan and Bansing in Bayombong town, along with ALS coordinators and mobile teachers of DepEd District 1 and 2 of Bayombong, witnessed the program.
Criselda B. Ildefonso, Education program specialist of ALS, said the inmates can pursue their college education once they are released from the provincial jail.
Solid waste management partner
The inmates, along with their guards, also visit the provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office to collect recyclable materials generated from the offices of the Provincial Capitol. They then transform the materials into house decors, kitchen, trash cans, and table materials, among others.
Forester Delia Agunoy, Nueva Vizcaya’s solid waste management coordinator, said these recycled products are sold to visitors of the provincial jail and during the Ammungan Festival at the provincial capitol.
Other inmates trained on haircutting and massage therapy under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and provide these services within the confines of the provincial jail. The prisoners also produce handicrafts such as picture frames in different sizes and souvenir items.
In the last quarter of 2016, the inmates also produced recyclable and indigenous Christmas lanterns and decors, which were sold from P2,000 to P5,000 apiece. Buyers came from the national government offices as well as local government officials and employees.
Most Christmas lanterns were bought and entered by the government offices to the yearly Christmas Lantern Competition at the capitol, or displayed along the main thoroughfares of the province, which serve as an added attraction.
“The inmates are also engaged into regular spiritual growth with the assistance of various religious sectors. In this way, their full transformation as peace-loving and productive citizens will be achieved inside the jail, while they also help their families through their productive time,” Pasion said.