Reaction Paper: Social Discrimination (Ex-convicts)

I turned on the  tv around nine in the morning yesterday, airing currently is the "Mission Possible" hosted by Mr. Julius Babao - looks like it is in the middle of the documentary.  I had to find it in Youtube but I got only a clip, my internet access is not that good to load to get the full episode.

A man at the age of fifty-two is working as a construction worker. In his interview, he is an ex-convict ...the man worked as a personal driver of a businessman that time he was only thirty-seven.
One time the boss and his daughter has an appointment together. The daughter left her wallet with a five thousand cash, atms and credit card.  Manong (as we called old men here in the Philippines) said he was tempted to get the wallet and had spent the cash in casino hoping he will win and then return the money.  He thought the boss would not mind the small amount he "borrowed" without permission because they are wealthy but a subpoena arrived on his doorstep. One of the boss' daughter's  card he said he gave to an acquaintance, has been robbed of about a hundred and fifty thousand pesos..

I heard the man regretting and saying "Just because of the five thousand pesos, I had been convicted and  it made my life more difficult.." He mentioned the difficulties in the prison. He had also tried committing suicide. He later on became the cook for the prison guards and was given parole. 

Together with Mr. Babao, they hunt for his job - although he is at all times qualified being a college graduate, being an ex-convict became a setback. Employers refuse him after finding out he had been imprisoned. It took them months to find an employer that wanted to give him a chance.

In my own view, manong's fourteen years of imprisonment is not the only disadvantage and negative effect of the crime he has committed.  He may have been punished all his life had he not found a job - not only him but his family as well. It was  mentioned that he met a woman during imprisonment (I do not know if it is just in writing) that become his wife later on.  They have a child. As soon as he was  given parole, he had not wasted time looking for a decent job to feed his family but his efforts were all futile. Until Mr. Babao had assisted him.  Luck is with him,when an employer trusted, gave him a chance and  hired him. Mr. Babao became emotional that moment that he can not help but cry and had embraced the man.  He saw the eagerness of the man to renew his life but society seemed ruthless not to trust him.  To quote Mr. Babao "If God can forgive us, why we can not forgive.."

The aim of imprisonment is supposed-to-be reformatory especially in low-offenses like qualified theft and Estaffa.  I said "supposed-to-be" because - reform seemed to be a far-fetched idea knowing the story of just one of the many ex-convicts. The offenders are locked-up for quite a shorter span of time to undergo counseling (Dept. of Social Welfare & Dev't. for offenders under 18), educated and trained for some skills(for correctional facilities -women prisoners) - teaching electronics, mechanical or handicrafts to land for a blue-collar job once released. There are also livelihood seminars conducted being one of the New Bilibid Prison's Programs for the inmates. The infamous bottled view  of "bahay kubo" or "banca" were all made behind bars.  For those who has a high school level attainment, they are given a basic computer literacy course.

I agree with what Mr. Babao's opinion that "change" is not just a solo-responsibility of the government. It must be a combined efforts of the government, society and the ex-convict, himself. The Government has done its duties as wellas the ex-con; the only lacking is our support.

It is true that we can not blame the society (us the public) for that, if I were to choose, I honestly would opt  to hire other applicants rather than him.  But to consider his hardships in the prison and the family he has to provide for - he will think twice of repeating the offense and we may be too heartless to let him down. It is like we are telling them they are hopeless creatures - that will provoke them to be more than worse again and will teach them hatred too when we refuse them. I think it is time to call for a CHANGE. Let us give them chance like God has always given us.

In fairness to employers,  they can give them jobs that will avoid exposing/tempting them to the risk of a repeat offense and in an environment of a lot of colleagues (this is not to watch over them but to give them the back-up on decreasing the chances to offend again surrounded by co-employees).  I supposed on the video that he is an inventory clerk or supply checker in the Company he is now employed.

Why not the government give special tax discount or exemption for those companies who will hire a particular number of ex-cons, say ten or more -to encourage the support? I have heard the government is giving that privilege for Companies hiring disabled citizens. The ex-cons are disabled too, they are incapable of finding job because of their NBI and Police Clearance can not lie of their records. They should have extended their support to the fullest to realize their vision of a reformatory prison.

Feel free to comment/air your opinions or suggestions in this matter.  Who knows it may reached the authorities..  Please like and share or tweet if you like this article.

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Thanks to Mr. Babao for reminding us this matter. Below is a clip of Mr. Babao's documentary:
Mission Possible 

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Family, Daily Living & Style by Angelita Galiza-Madera is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.