MANILA, Philippines — Detained former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wants to make it easier for former inmates to turn over a new leaf by becoming gainfully employed when they return to the outside world.
Arroyo has co-authored a bill with her son Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado Arroyo that seeks to encourage private establishments to hire former prisoners. In doing so, it would be easier for freed inmates to find and keep jobs in order to ease their return to mainstream society, they said.
The Arroyos’ House Bill 6716, which was referred to the House labor and employment committee earlier this month, seeks to provide tax incentives to the establishments that would hire erstwhile prisoners.
These establishments would be entitled to a tax credit on their gross income, equivalent to 15 percent of the total amount paid for the salaries and wages of the former prisoners.
The Arroyos said freed inmates should not be hindered from starting a new life because of their past.
“Given that life inside prison is more than enough punishment for their trespasses against society, it is unfair, once they are out of prison, if they are unjustly denied of a decent source of livelihood brought about by the stigma of their delinquent past,” they said in their explanatory note to the measure.
According to them, people who have gotten out of prison are raring to start a new life, but based on statistics, they have a slimmer chance of being employed.
“Most, if not all employers, are reluctant to hire former prisoners because of their criminal past. This makes it extra difficult for former prisoners to reform and reintegrate into society,” they said.
They also said they filed the bill to make employment more accessible to the former prisoners so that they could enjoy their newfound freedom and make their life after incarceration worthwhile.
Under the bill, a Committee on Employment Opportunities for Former Prisoners would also be established, and would be tasked with drafting the provisions for the training and employment of the inmates.
The committee would be under the Department of Justice and should be chaired by holders of a masteral or doctoral degree in business or public administration, or a lawyer with one year experience in penology management.
The bill also states that an initial amount of P100 million should be allocated for the program’s implementation for the first year.
The former President herself is detained at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center because of her non-bailable plunder charge stemming from the alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds. Her case is still being heard in the Sandiganbayan.