Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Some 200 detainees at the Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City, will become the first batch to receive free training in information technology through "BILIB IT" (Believe in IT), a joint project of Informatics College, one of the country's leading information-technology schools, and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Under the project, Cayetano and Informatics will build a training center inside the MMDJ that would have 10 computers for training detainees.
Batches of inmates, selected in coordination with jail officials and with security considerations, will undergo training in basic computer literacy and computer hardware servicing at least three hours a day, Informatics CEO Leo Riingen said during a news conference held yesterday at Informatics College at Eastwood City commercial center in Quezon City.
"Our jails have never been a venue for rehabilitation. As we know, it's a country club for the rich, but for the poor, it becomes punishment for the families of detainees," Cayetano said. "So we want to do some good."
A second chance
Cayetano, a former representative of Taguig City in Congress, has been visiting the MMDJ regularly since the early 1990s and has been advocating for reforms in jails. The district jail, located inside the regional police headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa, houses detainees still on trial for various crimes.
"Why not give training to Filipinos who need a second chance? These people are everywhere. In Cebu, [detainees] actually dance. In Muntinlupa City, they do artwork and handicrafts. In Quezon City, they are trained to play basketball," Riingen said.
"So why don't we help inmates rejoin society by training them in IT?," he said.
Riingen noted that computer literacy could help detainees once they return home and start life anew.
The organizers said they would carry out the project in strict coordination with jail officials to ensure that it would not compromise security.
"We are working out [a] program [that won't turn them into] cyber criminals," Cayetano said. "Of course, we would also like to do this project outside the jail or else being in jail might become an incentive," he added in jest.
No access to Internet
Cayetano said the training center would be fitted with security cameras and would be supervised by jail security at all times.
As an additional security measure, the computers will have no access to the Internet, Riingen said.
"We are hoping that inmates will practice self-regulation," Cayetano said. "I'm hoping that no one will do something wrong or create a security risk so we can continue with the program [and they will be productive when they leave jail]."
Graduate after 2 months
The program will start sometime in May and the first batch will graduate after two months, Riingen said.
Informatics gives free training to barangay officials as part of its information technololgy advocacy. It also runs a scholarship program.
About 400 scholars, including some who received support from Cayetano, graduated in ceremonies held on the Informatics Eastwood campus on Wednesday.