Hello! Sorry if I neglected this blog a bit. As you may have known, I recently joined Pinoy Big Brother and generally got busy! But now I have some time to explain the inside hierarchy of the jail system, so sit up and read on!
Cleaners are newly committed detainees, or in other words the ones imprisoned just recently. Usually, it takes 6 months to a year before you get upgraded to a better position from this one. Being a cleaner is very tiring – you’re basically doing dirty work. When you enter jail, you have 2 weeks of doing chores on your own without help. After 2 weeks you can finally hire people to do your job, but since the majority cannot afford to hire people to do it they end up cleaning on their own. You’ll have to wake up at 5 am to clean the cell. You’ll be cleaning the entire day. Everyone’s divided into cleaning the toilets, the hallway, the events area and all the public-facing areas of the jail. Sadly, because they’re new they get somewhat pushed to exert more effort. They usually have the most indecent areas for sleeping. In the old facility, cleaners slept near the bathroom, so when the water overflows they would get very wet. It’s sad really. In the new facility they sleep on the 1st floor of the beds. I can just imagine the other old jails with poor, less maintained facilities where they’d be having a harder time.
This is food service, but not food prep. Rancheras do not cook but are the ones responsible for dividing the food amongst the 50 to 80 people that are inside the cell. Food must be equally distributed so if suddenly the amount of food is inadequate, then they’ll have to get all the food called back. Normally detainees line their cannisters up to be filled up. When you’re friends with a ranchera, there’s a big chance you can ask her for a little more. I noticed that her friends always get more rice and ulam while the rest are eating a lot less. It’s their DISKARTE being in that position. But if someone calls them out then they can be fired from this duty eventually.
This is the first entry to a leader position. It’s basically an overnight job, and is honestly a difficult one. One person heads the entire cell from 7pm to 7am. By 7pm the cell is extremely noisy and rowdy. She’ll have to make everyone settle down and keep quiet. Everyone watches teleserye, however if people are very noisy then nobody’s allowed to watch. In my cell, the night duty mutes the TV so that people will keep quiet. But when the volume is up again then everyone makes noise too. It’s a daily struggle that detainees just don’t get. Eventually by 9pm it gets quiet and the cell is at peace. The night duty has a box of instant food like junk food and noodles, coffee sachets and other stuff she sells. She can’t fall asleep or else in the morning she’ll have to pay for the lost items. Also she would have to watch over everyone, mostly just to ensure that everything and everyone is in order. She has to fill out a logbook with all the things people do during the night. She must be vigilant and ensure that people are safe and alive, in other words not trying to kill themselves or escape, since some people die because of “bangungut.” Night duty staff have to manage the water too while competing with other cells. So by the time everyone in her cell wakes up she must have water for all the detainees in her care or people will not get to take a bath at all. If you take this job, it’s 50php per night, which is really not a lot but it’s still money.
This is a very tiring and demanding job. Called Expi for short, she has to take care of the entire schedule of all the detainees, meaning she has to fill out a 7am to 7pm work frame. She has to list all the people who will be attending all the events for the day. Normally in a jail there are many unexpected events. Jail officers seem to just rattle prisoners by calling out instant events on the spot and expect everyone to be ready as soon as they announce it. So if the officer on duty needs 30 people for a certain event, the expediter must come up with 30 people who must dress up immediately and go to the recreation area orderly without delay. If someone is late or the total is less than the number they asked for then the expeditor can be reprimanded. Another thing about the expi is that she also buys all the food from the coop for everyone. Imagine providing food for 50-80 hungry people all by yourself? Normally there’s a time for ordering food but many people suddenly ask them to get food in the off hours which is a hassle for the expi. I feel bad for people in this position because they get scolded a lot by officers. Most of the time they try to please everyone but it gets them in trouble. They have so much responsibilities that sometimes they need a substitute when they step out of the cell to answer to jail officers. Someone else will take their job as they leave. What’s more, even while they are tired they get extremely punished for an offense of their cellmate. They have the power to punish the people they govern on that daw. They can make people face the wall, squat or suggest to the coordinator to punish erring people as cleaners.
This is the second-in-command position, and is like the vice president of the cell. Each month, the jail officers ask for the records of all the detainees in the cells – age ranges, cases and the number of years a detainee has been committed to the facility. Honestly, it’s totally tiring! Plus, I’m really weirded out by this because everything’s digital already AND the officers already have these in their records as someone is committed into a facility, but the officers still insist doing things the old-school way. Imagine having to re-write all this constantly since detainees are only allowed to use paper and pen – meaning, they need to re-do their records EVERY TIME a new person is imprisoned or someone gets released. The alpha list changes all the time. Also she’s the person the coordinator relies on to collect the “taxes” of the cell and log these in the ledger. She also organizes the donations for distribution to the cell mates. Also, when it comes to giving bad news to the people within her cell, the coordinator lets her do the job of announcing unpleasant things if need be. Again, this is a tiring job. Only one person holds this position and she is voted into it. And ever this person is appointed by the leader, there’s a chance that people will hate on her because she wasn’t voted on by the majority.
She is the most respected person in the cell, voted amongst everyone to lead. She creates the rules, assigns all the punishments and reprimands, and basically mediates a lot of fights if there are any. She has the power to discipline everyone in her cell. She has to have a good relationship with the wardens so most of her requests for the cell and the detainees under her charge will get approved. People normally give her food from their dalaw and other trinkets to get to her good side, but a fair coordinator will still reprimand those who have done wrong regardless. If jail officers do not like this leader, then everyone under her will suffer, which is why it’s best to pick a person who’s close to them for this post. Normally coordinators are called for meetings with the warden. Now there are good coordinators who negotiate the wants and needs of their people firmly and clearly (that was definitely how I did it). However, there are coordinators who are not very good at communicating, so they simply say yes to whatever the warden wants. So, if the warden wants everyone from their cell to move to another cell (which is a huge hassle), then nobody will have a choice but live with that kind of erratic decision. When it comes to conflicts with other cells, she becomes the lawyer of her own cell, and must talk things out with other coordinators to ensure that their detainees will never clash with each other. Coordinators stop big fights as well and so much more. In short, the life of a detainee is dependent on the coordinator’s way of governing the cell.
As over-all head of the entire body of detainees, this post has oversight over all coordinators. Note that in a female jail she has no real function or bearing; a Mayoress only has bragging rights and everyone’s respect, since coordinators have more hold on their people. Either way, it’s still cool to be voted to lead everyone else even if they have little involvement in disciplining or making decisions because they don’t want to hover over the coordinators. But in a male jail, this position is the most powerful. Mayors can get someone padlocked (meaning a detainee cannot step outside the cell at all as punishment) or can even take away a detainee’s privileges regardless what cell they’re in. What makes a male dormitory’s mayor so powerful is that people will need to kiss their butt to feel safe inside the facility.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE JAILS HERE IN THE PHILIPPINES OR YOU’D LIKE TO REQUEST CERTAIN TOPICS: PLEASE DO COMMENT BELOW OR EMAIL ME AT KarenBordadorPH@gmail.com . THANK YOU!