New Bilibid Prison
Façade of the current New Bilibid Prison.
|Security class||Maximum security|
|Population||36,295 (as of 2011)|
|Managed by||Philippine National Police Special Action Force
Bureau of Corrections
The New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, 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 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 (1,360 acres). One hundred four hectares (260 acres) of the facility were transferred to a housing project of the Department of Justice. The Bureau of Corrections has its headquarters in the NBP Reservation.
The Old Bilibid Prison, then known as Carcel y Presidio Correccional (Spanish, "Correctional Jail and Military Prison") occupied a rectangular piece of land that was part of the Mayhalique Estate in the heart of Manila. The old prison was established by the Spanish colonial government on 25 June 1865 via royal decree. It is divided into two sections: the Carcel, which could accommodate 600 inmates; and the Presidio, which could hold 527 prisoners.
Due to increasing crime, the Philippine Government enacted Commonwealth Act No. 67 and a new prison was built in Muntinlupa on 551 hectares (1,360 acres) of land at an area considered at that time to be "remote". Muntinlupa sits quite a few miles southeast of the heart of Manila, on the shores of Laguna de Bay. Construction began on New Bilibid in 1936 with a budget of one million pesos. In 1940, the prisoners, equipment and facilities were transferred from Old Bilibid to the new prison. The remnants of the old facility was used by the City of Manila as its detention center then known as Manila City Jail. In 1941, the new facility was officially named "The New Bilibid Prison".
World War II
During World War II and the occupation of the Philippines by Japan, Old Bilibid and New Bilibid Prisons were used as Prisoner of War (POW) camps, hospitals for POWs, and transit centers for POWs being transferred to other locations, primarily to Japan. More than 13,000 POWs, the great majority of them American, were processed at these Manila area facilities during World War II. Included in that total were 500 civilian internees who were moved to Bilibid from the Camp Holmes Internment Camp near Baguio in December 1944. Thousands of POWs who transited Bilibid Prison en route to Japan were killed when the Hell ships on which they were being transported were sunk by American military aircraft or submarines, the Americans being unaware that POWs were on board the ships.
Old Bilibid prison continued to be used by the Japanese Kempeitai (Military Police) for holding special prisoners throughout their occupation of Manila and Luzon; General Vicente Lim was among those interned there.
The Battle of Manila began on February 3, 1945 and that evening the American civilians in Old Bilibid Prison heard the unmistakable sound of American voices outside the walls. The American soldiers outside, however, seemed unaware of the prisoners inside Bilibid, but had the objective of liberating the 4,000 civilian internees at Santo Tomas Internment Camp two kilometers (one mile) distant. The battle near the prison raged all that night, but the next morning the Japanese guards abandoned Bilibid leaving a message to the POWs and internees that they should avoid leaving Bilibid and posting a sign at the gate advising "Lawfully released Prisoners of War and internees are quartered here."
The internees lofted an American flag over Bilibid, but after an explosion nearby the departing Japanese came back to warn them that the flag would draw fire from Japanese artillery. At 7 p.m. that evening, American soldiers from the 37th Ohio National Guard broke through the wall into the compound.
The liberated POWs and internees at Old Bilibid numbered 1,200, including 700 soldiers and 500 civilians. The civilian internees remained in Bilibid for another month until the Battle of Manila concluded with the Japanese defenders wiped out. The internees were then flown to Leyte and from there they were repatriated to the United States. One of the civilian internees described the repatriation process as "being badgered by friends rather than the enemy." The former internees were infuriated at having to promise to pay the U.S. government $275 per person for repatriation. Many of the civilian internees, long-term residents, were reluctant to leave the Philippines.
On June 5, 2014, Department of Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, supervising official on the Bureau of Corrections and the NBP said that the National Penitentiary will be moved to Barangay San Isidro in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
The death chamber for inmates scheduled to die by electrocution was in Building 14, within the Maximum Security Compound of New Bilibid. As of 2015[update] it is used to house maximum security prisoners. The former lethal injection chamber is now used as the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Museum.
The prisoners pass the time in the basketball court in the penitentiary's gymnasium and are also engaged in the production of handicrafts. Various religious denominations are active in the prison, with masses said daily in the prison's Catholic chapel. These religious groups, such as the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Amazing Grace Christian ministries, Philippine Jesuit Prison Service and Caritas Manila, also extend medical services to prisoners.
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. The New Bilibid Prison also houses a talipapa (market) where the prisoners can buy commodities.
On 5 September 1991, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation No. 792, which was amended by Presidential Proclamation No. 120 on 15 December 1992, to the effect that 104.22 hectares (257.5 acres) of land be developed into housing for employees of the Department of Justice and other government agencies. This housing project is known as the Katarungan ("Justice") Village.
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- Images by Gerhard Joren at Getty Images
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