Death and Freedom in February

I’ve been teaching Creative Writing in the Maximum Security Prison in Muntinlupa since July 2007.    Among my students are inmates of Building 1.  Building 1 used to be called the ‘death row’ until the death penalty was repealed in 2006.   Two days ago an inmate from my class came up to me and whispered that he was going to give me something at the end of the class.  I nodded at him thinking it was either a note, a small gift (for they are thoughtful like that every now and then) or maybe a request for help for medical assistance.   To my surprise, he handed me three yellowed, torn and stained sheets of paper.  He whispered that those were his notes from February 5, 1999.

The significance of what he said didn’t strike me until I realized it was his journal entry from the day someone from his building, from 5 cells down the hall, was executed.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

-end of journal entry post-

Last October, while discussing the death penalty with my class, I decided to ask a couple of former death row inmates if they remember the day the law was repealed.  They described how they felt when they realized they will no longer be executed but their sentences changed to reclusion perpetua instead.  (WATCH VIDEO HERE)

To distinguish them from other inmates, death row prisoners were given shirts with black crosses at the back to wear. (1963, Lopez Museum Library)

—-
Many have asked me about my stand on the death penalty and I noticed that my answer changes depending on the time I am asked.  My answer varies, too, depending on the crime and the accused involved.  But certainly this is not justice.

If you ask me today, I still don’t think it should be restored – not while our law enforcement is so wanting, our investigation and evidence-gathering so unscientific, our methods for extracting confessions questionable, our courts so flawed, we can’t afford it yet.

I am involved in some of the work of the legal communtiy who pushed against the death penalty, I have a good friend who was murdered – so if you had asked me around the time of his murder, I’d have said yes to the death penalty.  But –  I have longtime students who have murdered, raped, carjacked, dealt drugs, stole and damaged both people and property and I am witness to their sincere effort to eke out a new existence even while inside prison.  I am their teacher and I have read their writing.  So if you ask me again, my answer is no.   I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to explore this issue from many vantage points.

So if you ask me today, my answer is no.

—-
I suppose it was fitting for me to post this on the 25th anniversary of the EDSA revolution as it serves as an analogy to those days.  While we may have escaped the death of our democracy, 25 years after – we realize that we are still imprisoned and struggling still – to be free.   I suppose those days were a matter of life and death for many, also ~ from all sides.

Today, I am thinking of choices and freedom instead.

-Gang Badoy
25 Feb 2011
Rock Ed Philippines

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About gangcentral

My name is (actually) Gang. View all posts by gangcentral

22 responses to “Death and Freedom in February

  • givemetravelfunds

    wow! this man’s writing just hit me hard. Emotions on ink and paper.
    i had to stop reading and pause at the line “kumakanta ang mga kasama ni Leo malapit sa aming kinalalagyan.” I imagine that it was a very sad day for them and they all coped with it in their own ways.

  • kora

    thanks for sharing. napaisip ako. napatungan ng iba pang layer ang paggunita sa EDSA. i will let my daughters read this when they are ready.

  • Jed

    I almost cried reading the notes.

  • Gelo Lopez

    Wala sa mga complex na salita, figures of speech, intricate modifiers ang bigat ng emosyon ng mga sulat na iyon. I can sense the hopelessness and despair, very transparent at honest ang mga salita. Ramdam. Salamat sa pag-shshare.

    PS. Can I repost your work in my blog?

  • Ferdinand Binondo

    the emotions are raw. innocent as a child but it hit me hard as reality of what await those Leo’s followers will be. grabe. thanks for the kick ms. gang!

  • herchelle odo

    i maybe weird, but in all honesty, i’m in tears after reading this post. tagos sa puso ang blog na ‘to. fitted for EDSA Anniversary.

  • Chesca

    Thank you so much for sharing. This hit me really hard. Like you, my views on death penalty also differ from time to time. It was nice seeing things from a different POV.

    Keep inspiring others, Gang!

  • unknownacquaintance

    It’s a nice post ❤ I also posted a quality blog about EDSA, but turns out mine's nothing compared to this =))

  • Dada

    I was about to sleep when i felt the urge to see if there is something important posted on tumblr. When I saw the handwriting, I knew that this was really something worth reading. I actually almost felt the fear, as I covered my mouth while reading his note. It was a unique experience. I hope it’s okay to share this to my friends and students.

    Good luck and God bless! Keep inspiring others ma’am! 🙂
    Thank you for your blog!

  • Francine

    Yes, you’re right. That we’re still imprisoned and struggling still – to be free. Thank you for sharing this. It made me cry. Fitted for the 25th Anniversary of EDSA Revolution. Now, my views regarding the death penalty have changed.

  • E_Lazaro

    Salamat po sa pagbabahagi. Alam ko lang po na inhumane ang death penalty base sa mga libro at pilosopiya. Hindi ko alam na ganito pala ito ka inhumane…na ganun pala yung uunti-untiing pagpatay sa isang tao at pag papa-hinto sa hininga kahit pa gaano ka-animal ang krimeng nagawa nito.

  • mypetvirus

    full of emotions sobra. nakakaiyak.

  • Jara

    naalala ko nung na lethal injection sya, grade 3 ako nun… tandang tanda ko pa.

  • Ayel

    That piece of writing is so powerful. It transported me to the place and time described in the journal entry. I’m still shivering now. I’d also say NO to death penalty.

  • dyosefina

    this post reminds me of a John Grisham novel, The Chamber.. and like you, i would say no to death penalty… i still believe that nobody has the right to take another’s life even if that another has taken someone else’s life.. do we exist in an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth society?

  • damnvixen

    i thought nothing could change my mind in wanting to revive the death penalty. I was wrong! This was an enlightenment to me.

  • rianne

    aw ! ano ba nagawa niyang kasalanan bakit kailangang death penalty ang parusa sakanya? nakakalunkot isipin ., OMG! 😐

  • Joanna Luciño

    we could have death penalty if and only if our law is perfect. It’s sad to see and almost feel how the prisoner who wrote that entry. Thank you for the information. It’s truly inspiring.

  • mhariz puno

    Madalas na nagiging Paksa ng aming Talakayan ang patungkol sa issue ng Death Penalty…at ako bilang isang Guro sa hinaharap ay kadalasang tahasan kung sasagot ng ganito..”PABOR AKO SA DEATH PENALTY” ito ang isasagot ko sapagkat may personal akong dahilan..dahilan na nagpapaapoy sa aking mura at makasariling isipan na hindi pa bihasa sa pagsukat ng tama sa kamalian..subalit..subalit ngayon araw…tila isang pagmulat sa akin ang mga sulat kamay..ang bubot na kaisipan na nagsasatitik ng kanyang nasaksihan at naringgan…dahilan upang magbukas ng aking isipan kasabay ng paghahanap ng makatarungang kasagutan sa aking puso…
    BUHAY ba ang hihingin kong KAPALIT ng BUHAY…
    BUHAY ba ang hihngin kong KAPALIT ng NASIRANG BUHAY…
    BUHAY ba ang hihingin kong MASIRA at kung sakali MABUO pa kaya ANG WINASAK at NIYURAKANG BUHAY…

    Ang Death Penalty ay walang lugar sa KASALUKUYAN..
    sapagkat ang mga BATAS ay kailangan munang salain at pagtibayin upang kung sakaling ang pagpapatupad nito ay mabigyang Kasagutan…
    sa Huli wala tayong PAGSISISIHAN sa PAGPATAW ng KAPARUSAHAN sa taong tunay na may KASALANAN…

  • Lara Dianp

    i almost cried while reading the notes. it’s the first time i read a letter like this from a prisoner and i actually quite felt what they really feel. thank you for this. God bless the prisoners. I hope they know that God has already forgiven them.

    • Jun Tan

      Maraming debate tungkol sa death penalty. Sometimes I’m in favor of the death penalty lalo na kapag may heinous crimes na nasa tv at radio.
      Kaya lang the question would still be the same.
      WHAT MAKES A MAN CRIMINAL?
      all answers will start from his birth,school,family,church and government.
      Persinally, kapag perpekto ang mga lelements na nabanggit ko eh ok pa.
      pero generaly, taking a man’s life legally is not the solution to uproot all evils.
      The prison and the prisoners are the mirror of our country and present society. You cannot delete them, shut them off or use avast anti virus to eliminate them.
      Everyone has a responsibility to all our fellow Filipino’s.
      Factors were countless when it comes to death penalty and prisoners.

      “When you close a school you open a prison”

      this is just one of so many.

      I have interviewed many prisoners and in the following days, I will reveal to you first hand accounts on what brings a man to prison.

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