ILOILO – “I have dreamed that one day there will be no more prisoners. And when that time comes, this society will be perfect and jail personnel will have to look for other jobs.”
This was Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr.’s message to 2,050 persons deprived of liberty at the Iloilo District Jail (IDJ) in Barangay Nanga, Pototan town when he celebrated in advance his 77th birthday with them on Dec. 16.
Defensor’s birthdate is Dec. 25. Visiting inmates and distributing gifts to them is a way of remembering and giving happiness to unfortunate inmates this holiday season, he explained.
“We’ve been doing this since 1992,” said Defensor.
The governor started the practice in 1992, the year he was first elected governor.
This year was Defensor’s last as governor to celebrate his birthday with inmates. He would be living politics for good when his term ends in June next year.
“Arthur Defensor Sr. is one of those who believe there is still hope for you, as long as you reform and follow prison rules,” he told the inmates.
He distributed to the inmates soaps, face towels, shampoos, toothpastes, and toothbrushes, among other basic items they could use while in detention.
Unlike orphanages and homes for the aged which frequently received help, Defensor said jails do not get as much assistance.
“Ang Dios waay nagapili sang iya pagpalangga bisan ang kriminal, tunto kag makawat,” he stressed.
Be law-abiding citizens and lead purposeful lives when finally released, Defensor told the inmates.
IDJ warden Vicente Papelera thanked the governor for consistently looking after the inmates’ welfare.
“Every December the detainees look forward to the governor’s birthday visit,” he said.
Grateful for Defensor’s care, the inmates gifted the governor with a wooden coffee table they made.
It was under the administration of Defensor that the then Iloilo Rehabilitation Center management was transferred to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, was renamed the Iloilo District Jail and moved to Pototan from Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City.
The lot in Barangay Nanga, Pototan where the IDJ stands was a property of the provincial government donated to the BJMP. (With a report from LHC, Capitol News/PN)