Rey Anthony Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 4, 2012 (PIA)—Believing in the innate goodness of man and his capability to straighten his ways given the chance, government authorities now ask well-meaning civic-minded individuals to help.
Help comes in helping a clearly undermanned Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) monitor individuals who may have slipped and committed crimes but have been granted probation, explained Raquelito Rollan, Bohol PPO chief.
Probation is a sentence whereby the convict is released from confinement but is still under court supervision, and instead of a prison term, he is released to family members on conditions specified by the probation officer, according to Rollan.
But, he added, probation officers needed to supervise clients are getting more and more occupied, saying the in Central Visayas alone, there are already 4,500 clients needing monitoring.
Probation officers work with socially handicapped offenders, supervising those who are serving non-custodial sentences. They conduct offender risk assessments to protect the public, and ensure offenders' awareness of the impact of their crime on their victims and the public, adds PPA officer in charge Georgette Paderanga, during a visit at the Philippine Information Agency.
It is also the task of probation officers to manage and enforce the court ordered conditions which involve the offender doing activities such as unpaid work, attendance to programs aimed at changing offenders' attitudes and behavior and alcohol or drug rehabilitation, she explained.
Because of this task, probation officers regularly interact with offenders, their victims, police and with local authorities, social services, and a wide field of voluntary sector partners.
All of these, to make sure that the offender under probation can get back to the social mainstreams, probation being a less costly alternative to imprisonment to first time offenders who are most likely to respond to individualized community based treatment programs.
But the acute problem of few probation officers push to the surface the critical need to complement it with Volunteer Probation Aides (VPA), OIC Paderanga said.
VPA is a strategy wherein the PPA can get maximum community help where good standing citizens can volunteer to assist probation officers in supervising clients and design along with PPA programs that bring about community healing and facilitated mainstreaming of the probationer in the future, she added.
It’s more like a big-brother / big sister in the community whom the probationer can run to in times of problems or crisis, Rollan describes the VPA.
Persons of legal age, in good health, financially stable and willing to supervise a client are what PPA needs in the volunteer program.
The help can also come in being resource individuals for values formation seminars, livelihood skills trainings and client assessments, on a voluntary basis. The Department of Justice, which also exercises supervision of the PPA approves the VPAs and issues the appointment papers for such task, Rollan concludes. (30/hd)