The Correctional System in the Philippines
How the Philippine Correctional System Works
In the Philippines, the correctional system is fragmented. Institutions for the confinement of convicts and the detention of those awaiting trial include a variety of national prisons and penal farms as well as numerous small local jails and lockups.
There are basically three groups who have jurisdiction over administering the correctional system.
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Department of Justice (DOJ)
The national prisons, which house more serious offenders, already convicted with a sentence of more than three years is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections, an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ). The bureau is responsible for the safekeeping of prisoners and their rehabilitation through general and moral education and technical training in industry and agriculture. The bureau also oversees the operation of prison agro-industries and the production of food commodities.
The Bureau of Corrections maintains seven correctional institutions and penal farms. The nation's largest prison is the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) at Muntinlupa that also operates the Manila City Jail. The penitentiary serves as the central facility for those sentenced to life imprisonment or long-term incarceration. It is divided into three camps to separate those serving maximum, medium and minimum penalties. The Correctional Institution for Women is located in Metropolitan Manila. Combination prison and penal farms also are also located in Zamboanga City, Palawan, Mindoro Occidental, and in several Mindanao provinces.
The seven (7) operating units of the Bureau of Corrections located nationwide:
Detainees awaiting trial and convicts whose sentences are lower than three years are held in local facilities which are ran by two entities.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) which answers to an executive government agency, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), maintain holding facilities in cities, districts, and municipalities all over the Philippines. Primarily, its clients are detainees accused before a court who are temporarily confined in such jails while undergoing investigation, waiting final judgment and those who are serving sentence promulgated by the court 3 years and below.
The Bureau has four major areas of rehabilitation program, namely: Livelihood Projects, Educational and Vocational Training, Recreation and Sports, and Religious/ Spiritual Activities. These were continuously implemented to eliminate the offenders' pattern of criminal behavior and to reform them to become law-abiding and productive citizens.
The Jail Bureau is mandated to take operational and administrative control over all city, district and municipal jails which number at 1,132. Of this number, only 417 comprising two (2) female dormitory, two (2) youth centers, 152 district jails, 84 city jails and 177 municipal jails are fully manned by the Jail Bureau, leaving 63% or 715 jails still being manned by the PNP. 59,639 inmates are housed in BJMP-manned jails, while only 1,529 are with the PNP-manned jails.
The Local Government and Philippine National Police
Because of lack of BJMP personnel and capacity to accommodate all detainees, the temporary holding cells or jails of PNP headquarters nationwide still hold a number of detainees and sometimes prisoners. 63% of the city, district, and municipal jails in the Philippines fall under the management of the PNP and is overseen by the governor’s office of the particular province they are located. The BJMP reports that these facilities kept by the PNP only hold 2.5% of the total number of detainees and prisoners that fall under their mandate.
Parole and Probation
Some prison inmates become eligible for parole and probation. Before serving their sentence, felons, who are not charged with subversion or insurgency, or have not been on probation before, can apply for probation. Probationers are required to meet with their parole officers monthly, to avoid any further offense, and to comply with all other court-imposed conditions.
After serving an established minimum sentence, certain prisoners can apply to their parole board for release. The board can also recommend to the president to pardon prisoners it believes to have become reformed and who do not present any danger to society anymore.
Promoting the Prevention of Torture through prison reforms