Inmates seek God, realize value of life, liberty?

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PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan, Jan. 27, 2015 -– Inmates being reformed under minimum, medium, and maximum security in the 26,000-hectare Prison and Penal Farm of Ihawig learn to seek God and find comfort in their faith, a 60-year old convict shares.

Despite the difficult life in the sprawling penal colony, Cesar Felixia revealed, the years of isolation from loved ones lead prisoners to discover the meaning of life.

A group of young inmates dance for donations at a recreation hall in Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. (Photo: Oliver Samson)

The tough years of being cut off from free society help them fully realize the value of human liberty, he added.

No contact

“I have not seen the outside world for the past 11 years after they brought me here in 2004,” Felixia said in Filipino. “I have not heard from my family ever since.”

According to the inmate, prisoners only get the chance to go out if they fall ill and are in need of hospital confinement.
“Unfortunately, I have never been sick since they brought me here,” Felixia said chuckling.

Felixia serves his term of 17 years under minimum security for taking the life of a person who got into a fight with his brother-in-law in Quezon City in early 2000.
Previously, he had done two years of his sentence in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Reintegration into society

Inmates like him being reformed under minimum security level are not confined in cells. They walk freely within the the vast penal colony, farming rice fields, raising fish in ponds, growing fruits and tending animals.

They are also trained in livelihood and employable skills in the penitentiary in preparation for their reintegration into society.

According to penitentiary supervisor Jacinto R. Regal, these technical skills include handicraft-making, soup-making, basic electrical courses, basic automotive mechanics, animal raising, conventional farming, and organic farming. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)

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