Quantcast
Latest Stories

Frisking rules set for gay, lesbian jail guards

By

Gay and lesbian officers of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) have been banned from frisking and conducting strip searches on people of the same sex who are suspected of sneaking contraband into jail.

“At no instance [shall] a female homosexual jail officer be allowed to conduct body search on female jail visitors, while a male homosexual jail officer cannot body search a male jail visitor,” a BJMP memorandum said.

The policy has been in practice for a long time in some 400 jails nationwide, but the standard operating procedure was put in writing and disseminated to wardens in September last year “by way of reminder,” an official said.

“We want to make sure there is no malice, and the subject of the body search does not become uncomfortable,” said BJMP Director Rosendo M. Dial, dismissing suggestions that this could be considered a discriminatory practice.

The policy bears good intentions: to minimize possibilities of sexual abuse and to conduct body searches in a “professional manner without violating the legal rights of visitors/inmates and with due respect and regard to human dignity.”

But it also raises questions about privacy rights and the extent to which the government can compel law enforcers to reveal their sexual orientation, and prohibit members of a particular gender from performing tasks that are part of their jobs.

Ladlad position

Ladlad, a political party advocating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, called the regulation “a clear case of discrimination.”

“In the first place, what is the basis to say there is malice? Just because one is a homosexual, they can automatically assume that there is sexual malice?” said Ladlad chair Bemz Benedito.

“This is a clear case of discrimination on our ranks because it does not account for our capabilities and skills in performing the job, but our sexual orientation,” Benedito said.

Under Presidential Decree No. 807, which prescribes the organization of the civil service, to which the BJMP is subject, “all appointments in the career service shall be made only according to merit and fitness, to be determined as far as practicable by competitive examinations.”

The BJMP’s own code for ethical standards states that the “civilian character of the organization requires adherence to the rule on the merit and fitness system.”

Body searches

Thousands of visitors to BJMP jails go through body searches every day. As of February, there are 62,870 inmates, most of them, or 58,900, detained on criminal charges. The rest are serving sentences.

Under BJMP rules, “all male visitors shall be searched by male jail officers while female visitors shall be searched by female jail officers only.”

But in assigning shifts, the BJMP does not ask a jail guard point-blank if he or she is homosexual. “We don’t do that,” Dial said.

In fact, the official said he had encountered no case of a jail guard confessing to being gay or refusing an assignment to body-search duty for that reason.

So how can they tell? “It’s the wardens who assign officers to body-search duty. They have their own ways of determining whether one is homosexual or not. It comes out in the way one behaves,” Dial said without elaborating on what qualifies as gay behavior.

But “again, that’s a violation,” said Benedito, who is transsexual. “You’re just assuming … You cannot just assume … based on stereotypes of LGBTs. Just because one is effeminate doesn’t automatically mean one is homosexual.”

Most visitors are subject to just a “pat or frisk or rub.” Guards run their hands through the body, carefully feeling for concealed items, such as prohibited drugs and weapons, which are illegal contraband, as well as ordinary contraband, such as pirated discs, jewelry and mobile phones.

“If during the pat/frisk/rub search the jail officer develops probable cause that contraband is being hidden by the subject which is not likely to be discovered, the jail officer shall request a conduct of strip search/visual body cavity search,” the memo said.

Body language

According to Dial, body language plays a role here in which visitors arouse the suspicion of the guard based on “how nervous they look.”

But strip and visual body cavity searches may only be conducted if the visitor consents to it and signs a waiver, “otherwise, we just don’t allow them to enter,” he said.

In all BJMP facilities, there is a private room where such searches are conducted. No cameras are allowed and no member of the opposite sex may watch.

“Personnel performing searches shall not be allowed to talk/discuss the search they performed unless directed by the court or warden,” the memo said.

The guidelines on what to do during such body searches are also graphically detailed in the BJMP memo, including provisions on how to search delicate parts such as the anus and genitals, where contraband could be concealed.

Dial said the system appears to be working. “We have had no complaints of abuse from the visitors of the inmates so far,” he told the Inquirer.

“We will fight this,” Ladlad said.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) , Gay and lesbian jail guards , Ladlad , Ladlad chair Bemz Benedito , strip searches


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7EOU35ITSRS7UX5W6M6S6KDGIA Divus Titus

    Who’s next?  Gay doctors banned on examining clients of same sex? Nurses? Firemen rescuing men? Physical Therapists?  This policy is clearly homophobic!



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Gigi Reyes back to face charges
  2. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  3. In the know: Gigi Reyes
  4. SC suspends proctor in 2011 bar exams
  5. Senator Pimentel backs German think tank’s stand vs dynasties
  6. Bar proctor suspended for photographing test papers
  7. Collector Danny Garcia says Inquirer worth more than news
  8. Meteor shower to light up PH skies
  9. What Went Before: Enrile denies Gigi Reyes was ‘other woman’
  10. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  5. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  6. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  7. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  8. Massive infra spending set
  9. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  10. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Man wins half marathon, dies in Argentina
  • Clouds to bring slight relief from summer heat
  • Canadians rally to legalize marijuana
  • S. Korea ferry transcript reveals evacuation panic
  • Obama, family cause a small stir at Easter service
  • Sports

  • Reigning champs Miami open playoffs with win
  • Spurs subdue Mavericks in playoff opener
  • Wawrinka beats Federer to win Monte Carlo Masters
  • Ageless Hopkins pitches 50-50 Mayweather deal
  • Goodbye MGM, Las Vegas for Pacquiao?
  • Lifestyle

  • Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  • Transitions and resurrection in the performing arts
  • ‘Archaeology tour’ of Cebu’s heritage of faith
  • Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  • ‘Imports’ from London, and play of the year
  • Entertainment

  • ‘Captain America’ stays strong atop US box office
  • Easter musings
  • Solenn in shorts
  • Unmerry mix of attention-calling moves on ‘Mini-Me’ TV tilts
  • Persistence pays off for The 1975
  • Business

  • BDO seen keen on bidding for Cocobank
  • Bataan freeport investment pledges up 1,302%
  • Golden Week
  • Bourse to woo Cebu stock mart investors
  • Supper power
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Gigi’s home
  • Palace stonewalls on MRT inquiry
  • Couple of things too
  • There is plenty of water behind Wawa Dam
  • Triduum thoughts of a young boy
  • Global Nation

  • Search for Etihad passengers launched
  • Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  • Tim Tebow’s charity hospital in Davao seen to open in 7 months
  • OFW died of Mers-CoV in Saudi Arabia, says family
  • Aquino, Obama to tackle US pivot to Asia during state visit
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement