Incarceration rate (per 100,000 inhabitants)
The prison service has a computerised record keeping system
The National System of Judicial Information (NJIS), founded in 2015, includes a plan to create a system for taking a biometric census of the prison population. This should avoid incarcerating prisoners beyond the completion of their sentence 1.
Total number of prisoners
Overcrowding is an issue for specific types of prison facilities
The Philippines has the most overpopulated prisons in Asia.
Some of the regional, departmental and municipal prisons are experiencing extreme overpopulation. The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) publishes some statistics Official statistics from September 2015 and the numbers concerning the most overcrowded facilities are alarming. The occupation rate varies widely from facility to facility: some have a rate of over 2000%, while the average stands at 389%. At the Malolos prison, 27 m² cells house six people. Malolos holds 137 detainees, for a 2,285% occupation rate. The San Pedro municipal prison holds 340 people in space intended for 15, for an occupation rate of 2216%.
The most densely populated prison is in New Bilibid, where 23,000 prisoners are housed on 500 hectares 1.
The war on drug trafficking has increased the prison population. Two thirds of the people detained in the Quezon prison are being held there for drug-related infractions. In 2016, this prison houses 3,400 prisoners in space intended for 800. In August, the prison population reaches 4,000. The prison administration refuses to take on new inmates 2. The Cebu prison director echoes this refusal.
A supervisory body has issued a decision on prison overcrowding
The United Nations Committee on social, economic and cultural rights denounces this situation on 29 September 2016. One expert reports that the prison population has doubled. No alternative measures exist for dealing with nonviolent crimes, including drug use.
Between May 25 and June 3, 2015, The United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture visits facilities where people are deprived of their liberty. The government of the Philippines has refused to publish the report on those visits, which dates from February 23, 2016. The Sub-committee urges the Philippines to take immediate measures to reduce the overcrowding in its prisons.
Name of authority in charge of the prison service
- The Ministry of the Interior and local authorities oversees facilities housing persons who are placed in pre-trial detention and those condemned to sentences of less than three years.
- The Ministry of Justice oversees facilities housing people condemned to sentences of more than three years.
- The Juvenile and Justice Welfare Council works towards the reintegration of minors who have had run-ins with the law. It answers to the Minister of Social Welfare and Development.
The prison service outsources the management of the facilities to private companies, either partially or fully
A plan to build a new prison is undertaken under the former government. The new facility would have a capacity of 26,880. Thus, it would be one of the largest prisons in the world. It would house persons being detained at the New Bilibid Prison and the women’s correctional institution. The government is offering a private company a contract of 1.1 billion dollars for the construction of the prison and its management over 23 years. The plan has been delayed despite interest expressed by three multinational corporations1.
“Philippines offers private firms $1.1 bln tender to build, maintain jail” in Reuters, 16 March 2015 and “Three Philippine firms in race for $1.1 bln prison. project” in Reuters, 26 June 2015. ↩
There are three primary types of prison facilities: facilities for short-term prison sentences, national prisons and prison farms.
District, city and municipal jails comprise the facilities for short-term prison sentences. They house persons who are placed in pre-trial detention and those condemned to sentences of less than three years. These facilities are managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology: BJMP), which falls under the purview of the Minister of the Interior and local authorities.
For longer-term sentences, there are two types of facilities: national prisons and prison farms.
Prison farms, often located on islands, allow prisoners relative freedom in an area covering several hundred hectares. These institutions house people condemned to sentences of more than three years. Prison farms are open prisons. There, prisoners learn a trade that will allow them to reintegrate into society more easily after their release (see Work). Prisoners can be identified by their tee-shirts. They sleep in guarded huts.
Total number of prison facilities
Iwahig is the largest prison farm, housing 3,186 detainees on 26,000 hectares in 2014. It was built as a penal colony, intended to house the worst criminals in isolation 600 km away from Manila. 1.
Many of the prisons are less than 100 m² in area.
Other institutions are more imposing, for example, the Cebu prison; and the Quezon prison, which is located north of Manila.
Prison farms are located on islands. It allows prisoners relative freedom in an area covering several hundred hectares. Other establishments are spread over the archipelago.
Many of the prisons are sometimes housed in dilapidated or makeshift buildings. The Kidapawan prison building is a deteriorating former school located in an isolated forested region1. Other facilites, built on islands, such as the Negros Oriental Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Dumaguete or the Davao City women’s prison.
Évasion massive après l’attaque armée d’une prison in RFI, 4 January 2017. ↩
People are also held in cells at the Philippine National Police (PNP) stations. Between October 2014 and February 2015, The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) visits police stations in the capital. Police detain people who have been taken into police custody, as well as those being prosecuted, during their preliminary investigation. The slow pace of the congested justice system is increasing the duration of these detentions. Their legal duration, capped at 36 hours, stretches into days, even months. This results in serious logistical problems (see Cells and Food). The buildings are often dilapidated and in poor condition.
Secret detention locations continue to exist. They house individuals suspected of terrorism, especially within the context of armed conflict by Communist or Islamic groups opposing the government. Prisoners, some of whom are minors, are subjected to acts of torture (see Violence and Poor Treatment). The United Nations Committee against Torture called for the closing of secret detention locations in April 2016. .
Number of prison guards (FTE)
Some facilities have adopted a system of management: sharing with gangs. Guarding prisoners can be delegated to them. The New Bilibid prison houses 12 regional gangs, who serve as go-betweens for administration and detainees. This practice furthers violence, and as a consequence, 95% of the prisoners belong to a gang. 1.