EDITOR'S CORNER
Over a Cup of Tea
Heidi M. Pascual
Publisher & Editor
2006 Journalist of the year
for the State of Wisconsin
(US-SBA)
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A Story on Probation in the Philippines:
Caught between hard choices: Imprisonment or freedom under probation
Background:
Probation -- which aims to provide a community-based alternative to imprisonment for first-time offenders -- was
introduced in the Philippines during the American colonial period sometime in 1935 (via Act No. 4221) but was
declared unconstitutional in 1937. It was reintroduced many years after the end of World War II and became law
during the Martial Law regime of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976. During the time of President Corazon Aquino
(1987), the Probation Administration was renamed Parole and Probation Administration (PPA). PPA’s function
includes supervision of prisoners who, after serving part of ther sentence in jails are released on parole pardon with
parole conditions.
The PPA is tasked to promote the correction and rehabilitation of criminal offenders, as well as provide opportunity
for restoring broken relationships among stakeholders in a crime. In 2005, through a Memorandum of Agreement
with the Dangerous Drugs Board, PPA was also tasked to investigate and supervise first-time minor drug offenders
placed on suspended sentence pursuant to Republic Act 9165
.  (Sources: Wikipedia and PPA website)
Peter’s Story

Peter is a good-looking man, medium built, armed with an engaging smile and eyes that “speak” to anyone he wants to be with. At 35, he has had
several women -- decent and pretty professionals, hardworking employees, as well as flirty, ill-repute girls (for fun). Peter boasts of having five
children with five different women, all of whom are being taken care of by their respective relatives, all mother-side. He doesn’t have any of his
children with him because Peter has not been employed for years, and he could not, or would not, take a job he considers “unfit” for his good looks.
Peter used to belong to a well-to-do family whose fortune came from successful hardwork and sacrifice abroad. His parents relied on dollar
allowances sent by Peter’s grandparents, aunts, and uncles, while they lived in the grandparents’ home free of everything. Peter grew up not
knowing the meaning of poverty, In his youth, Peter got anything he wanted and he could go anywhere he desired to go. Money was no problem …
until his grandparents died and the spring started to dry up.

By then, Peter, who had acquired the drug habit since his high school days, stopped schooling and decided to look for other means to fund his
habit -- women with ability to earn more than enough to support him and keep him happy. For years, Peter used his good looks to entice not only
equally good-looking women, but also professionals with financial capacity to sustain Peter’s lifestyle. Adept at using Internet dating sites for
locals, Peter knew how to spot his prey once a woman began chatting with him online. After meeting Peter and dating him for a while, it always took
some time before each of these women woke up from a bad dream and finally leave the man who cared not for them but for their “special quality” of
having lots of money. Each parting caused by eventual realization was topic for neighborhood rumors, and Peter came to be named the “girls’ drug
thug” behind his back.
Being a drug user was no secret to a small community like ours,
not only because of residences in close proximity to one another
but also the significant vigilance of law enforcers armed with
greater authority under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
Peter lacked respect for his widowed mother and most of his
neighbors when he was high on drugs, thus it was common to
hear Peter’s foul mouth spewing unprintables in loud decibles
during such times. The community also knew that Peter was
responsible for the loss of many family heirloom and common
household items in his mother’s house that ended up either in
pawnshops or in well-known fences’ collections of stolen
properties. Until a neighbor and close relative decided enough
was enough and reported Peter’s drug use in the local police
station. Law enforcers surrounded Peter’s house one evening
during a “private session” and found enough evidence to put
Peter and his drugged friends behind bars.

Peter was jailed. His widowed mother, however, did all in her
power to release her son from prison. How she was able to do it
was truly beyond everyone’s understanding. All the while, people
expected drug users and pushers to stay imprisoned indefinitely
until they snitched on drug sources. Apparently, in smaller towns
outside Metro Manila, it was easier to appeal for mercy, especially
if drug users were considered victims, and not perpetrators, and
if they haven’t committed any grave crimes.
Peter’s mother approached some influential justice folks,
pleading that her son was an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in
the Middle East, contributing much to the Philippine economy,
and was about to go abroad when apprehended. Peter was
released after only two months in jail. There was no known
charge/s filed against him.
Next issue: Peter’s life after jail.
This story revolves around a drug addict in my hometown who has been released from prison middle of last year, how he’s behaving while waiting
for approval of his application for probation, how our community is dealing with him, and what our local PPA is doing to fulfill its functions.