The Challenge of Social Justice

by RJ Limpo

Social Justice is defined as the fair and just relation between the individual and society (source: Wikipedia). It is easy to imagine that in an ideal world, administration of such fairness would be easily attainable. However, looking closely at the local setting, we would be hard pressed to find such an ideal. Specially if we look into the social services that our government has to provide for.
For example, let us look closely into the workings of our local jail facilities.

Each municipality has a city jail. This is supposed to be the “holding area” for an accused aka PDL (persons deprived of liberty) to await promulgation as to whether he or she will in fact be convicted or otherwise. In the meantime, should the PDL be reliant on the PAO or the Public Attorneys Office for representation, (unless they can afford a private attorney) and find a schedule at the local courts for the hearings to be heard, It will take no less than a couple of months up to a couple of years to reach a decision.

Meanwhile, as one enters the facility, their world stops. Instantaneously finding oneself in a room full of strangers, sharing a 30 square meter with anywhere between 50-60 people in it. Sharing only one bathroom with only one bath allowed per day with one timba of water as your ration.

Most of the day is spent here. Inside the cell. Day in and day out.

This absence of Social Justice is what drives our efforts at the SSAP – Prison Ministry to keep servicing the needs of PDLs in terms of Spiritual building through weekly catechism classes and quarterly social integration programs to keep them in touch with what is going on outside the iron bars and the concrete walls.

And among the most recent projects that have gotten off the ground is the bakery at the Makati City Jail. Through your generous donations, PDLs are now able to produce their own bread products which they use to generate funds to supplement their basic needs in the facility. Since most of the donations came from our parish, we aptly and fondly call the bakery Pan de San Antonio.

Projects like these keep the PDLs busy, productive and made to feel useful instead of wallowing in midst of their suffering.

Incidentally, October 24-30 is National Corrections Consciousness Week (NACOCOW) which is a nationwide campaign of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to showcase talents and uplift the spirits of PDLs. In line with this, we will be offering some of the bread products produced at the MCJ bakery during this weekend. We pray for your continued support to the SSAP ministries.

As published in the October 23 issue of the Parish Bulletin.