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Manila City Jail

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 915
  • Category: Manila

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Philippines / National Capital Region / Manila / C. M. Recto Ave., corner Quezon Blvd. The Manila City Jail (MCJ) has been ravaged by time. It is under-staffed, overcrowded, and its facilities in disrepair. Originally built by the Spaniards in the 19th Century, “Bilibid”, as it is commonly known, was home to prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation of Manila in World War II. Today it houses over 3,700 inmates – a 4x overcapacity rate – on 2 hectares, making the MCJ undoubtedly one of the most over-congested jail facilities in the country. Coordinates: 14°36’18″N 120°59’1″E

Nearby cities: Quezon City, Antipolo City, Rizal, Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal Muntinlupa City Jail (New Bilibid Prison)

The Old Bilibid Prison, then known as Carcel y Presidio Correccional (Spanish, “Correctional Jail and Military Prison”) occupied a rectangular piece of land which was part of the Mayhalique Estate in the heart of Manila. The old prison was established on June 25, 1865 under a Spanish royal decree. It is divided into two sections the Carcel Section which could accommodate 600 inmates and the Presidio, which could accommodate 527 prisoners. The increasing number of committals to the Old Bilibid Prison, the growing urbanization of Manila and the constant lobbying by conservative groups prompted the government to plan and develop a new site for the national penitentiary, which was to be on the outskirts of the urban center. Accordingly, Commonwealth Act No. 67 was enacted, appropriating one million (P1,000.000.00) pesos for the construction of a new national prison in the southern suburb of Muntinlupa, Rizal in 1935.

The old prison was transformed into a receiving center and a storage facility for farm produce from the colonies. It was later abandoned and is now under the jurisdiction of the Public Estates Authority. The remnants of the old facility was then used by the City of Manila as its detention center then known as Manila City Jail. On November 15, 1940, all inmates of the Old Bilibid Prison in Manila were transferred to the new site. The new institution had a capacity of 3,000 prisoners and it was officially named the New Bilibid Prison on January 22, 1941. The prison reservation has an area of 587 hectares, part of which was used for planting crops. The prison compound proper had an area of 300 x 300 meters or a total of nine hectares. It was surrounded by three layers of barbed wire.

The New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, Philippines, is the main insular penitentiary designed to house the prison population of the Philippines. It is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) under the Philippine Department of Justice. As of October 2004, it has an inmate population of 16,747. The penitentiary had an initial land area of 551 hectares. The institution became the maximum security compound in the ‘70s and continues to be so. The camp houses not only death convicts and inmates sentenced to life term, but also those with numerous pending cases, multiple convictions, and sentences of more than 20 years. After World War II, there was a surfeit of steel matting in the inventory and it was used to improve the security fence. In the late ‘60s, fences were further reinforced with concrete slabs. In the 1980s, the height of the concrete wall was increased and another facility was constructed, 2.5 kilometres from the main building. This became known as Camp Sampaguita or the Medium Security Camp. On January 22, 1941 the electric chair was transferred to New Bilibid Prison.

The death chamber was constructed in the rear area of the camp when the mode of execution was through electrocution. Today, it is a security zone where those convicted of drug offenses are held. The NBP expanded with the construction of new security facilities. These were the Medium Security Camp, which was used as a military stockade during martial law and the Minimum Security Camp, whose first site was christened Bukang Liwayway. This was transferred to another site within the reservation where the former depot was situated. The increase in the prison population has affected the segregation system. Several foreign funded projects dot the prison reservation, among them, the Half Way House and the Juvenile Training Center. Both projects are supported by funds from Japan through the representation of the Interdisciplinary Committee of NAPOLCOM.

Recreation and facilities

The prisoners pass the time in the basketball court in the penitentiary’s gymnasium. They are also engaged in the production of handicrafts. Various religious organizations are active in the prison and daily masses are held in the prison’s chapel. The New Bilibid Prison also houses a talipapa (market) where the prisoners can buy commodities. Educational facilities inside the compound provide elementary education, high school education, vocational training and adult literacy programs. It also provides a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. Medical services are given by the different religious groups and charitable foundations such as the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Amazing Grace Christian ministries, Philippine Jesuit Prison Service and Caritas Manila Katarungan Village

On September 5, 1991 President Corazon C. Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation No. 792, which was amended by Presidential Proclamation No. 120 on December 15, 1992 to the effect that 104.22 hectares of land was to be developed into housing for the employees of the Department of Justice and other government agencies. This housing project is known as the Katarungan Village. The Bureau of Corrections has its headquarters in the NBP Reservation.


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