BANYUHAY (Bagong Anyo ng Buhay)
Banyuhay is a reform program in the Provincial Jail. It was a response to traditional jail management system’s failure to perform its mandate of developing and enforcing “an effective system of providing jail and security services.”
Before the program, conditions in the provincial jail were intolerable. Food was unfit for humans. Drinking water was contaminated. Toilets were inadequate and filthy. Drug use was rampant. Illnesses and diseases were common and untreated. Visitations were limited. There was no work program for inmates, and livelihood activities were inadequate. Jailbreaks and riots were frequent. Inmates resisted disciplinary measures. At the same time, jail personnel had low morale and were prone to corruption. Guards were few and inadequately trained.
The Banyuhay Program hired a jail warden with a civilian background, conducted transparent bidding for food concession based on food standards of the International Committee of the Red Cross, constructed 4 new deep wells, allowed daily visitation by spouses and family, increased the number of livelihood projects, and institutionalized programs on sports physical education, music, recreation, legal assistance, and literacy.
Additional personnel were hired, salaries were upgraded, monetary benefits were given, and seminars and training were conducted. Deserving employees received recognition and commendations. Additional cells were built. Every cell was provided a comfort room. Other facilities were improved or installed: sunning area, recreation area, work area, chapel or worship area, visiting area, computer area, quarantine room, library, clinic, and monitoring room.
Since the program, there had been no more reports of skin diseases attributed to flogging. Of the jail’s 1,800 inmates only less than 1% had illness. Skills training and capital support enabled 186 inmates to earn from P90 to P300 a day through the livelihood programs. A cooperative was established to address the economic needs of prisoners.
All religious groups are free to practice faith. Family gatherings are held on special days and on Christmas. Atmosphere in the jail has become light and lively.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2004 Galing Pook Awards.