prison facts

The Bureau of Prisons was created under the Reorganization Act of 1905 as an agency under the Department of Commerce and Police.   The agency eventually was placed under the supervision of the Department of Justice.  The Bureau of Prisons was changed into the Bureau of Corrections with the issuance of Proclamation No. 495 and through a provision in the Administrative Code of 1987.


The oldest penal facility , founded in 1832, is situated in Zamboanga City, the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm.  It has gained a historical landmark as the first penal facility in the country.    It was however destroyed during the Spanish-American war in 1888.  It was eventually revived under the Reorganization Act  of 1905 and placed under the Bureau of Prisons to receive convicted prisoners in Mindanao.   (Note:  In Australia, the oldest penal facility is situated in Darwin Islands and the Australian government has preserved not only the integrity of the facility but its historical significance as well. ) In the Philippines, the oldest penal facility is integrated into the Southern Philippine Eco Zone, and planned to be transformed into a docking site for freight cargoes.  The San Ramon prison is expected to be transferred to Bongiao, a mountainous area, 8 hours of dirt road from the city and believed to be under MILF territory.


Davao Penal Colony was established on January 21, 1932 with the issuance of a Presidential Proclamation 414.  During World War II the entire facility was closed and transferred to Iwahig Penal Colony.  It became the biggest Japanese Imperial Army garrison not only in the Philippines but also in all occupied territories of Japan in Southeast Asia during World War II.  Hundreds of American prisoners of war perished in the jungles of Dapecol.  Here is also the site where the bestselling book “Escape in Davao” by John Luckaks described the greatest escape of American servicemen serving time in the penal establishment.  To date, Dapecol prison reservation is the site of the biggest banana plantation in the world.


Iwahig Penal Colony is the biggest penal facility in the country at 40,000 hectares comprising mostly of undulating vegetation and pure jungle.  It has often been referred to as the last forest frontier in the country.  60% of its wild life and fauna have as yet to be catalogued and identified by modern science.  It introduced the first open prison approach, a model acknowledged by United Nations and lifted liberally the open institution program in Japan’s correctional system.  It is a land-locked area in the middle of Palawan province, not an island, organized during the American Occupation.  The term “Iwahig” has evolved from the term “Iuhit” the name of the place before the penal facility was founded. The Iuhit penal Settlement now known as Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm  was established in 1904 by the Americans in 28,072 hectares of land. The land areas expanded to 40,000 hectares in the late 1950s and expanded again to 41,007 hectares by virtue of Executive Order No. 67 issued by Governor Newton Gilbert on October 15, 1912.  Since the 1970s the vast Iwahig prison reservation has been reduced with the issuance of a series of Presidential Proclamation.  The last forest frontier is nearing extinction due to a number of issuances all intended to wreck the eco system and push climate change to the front.


New Bilibid Prison is oftentimes referred to as the National Penitentiary.  It has been established in 1935 and since then, it houses almost 55% of the entire prison population in the country.  It is also the site of the infamous Death Chamber where  condemned criminals are executed.  It is also the Central Office and Headquarters of the Bureau of Corrections, the seat of prison leadership, the Director of Corrections.  The 500 hectare facility has seen better days since it was also, for a time in the past,  the site of the biggest livestock farm and industry in Asia run by government and maintained by prisoners.


Correctional Institution for Women was founded on November 27, 1929 by virtue of Act No. 3579 as the first and only prison for women in the Philippines.  (75 years later, on September 18, 2007, the Correctional Institution for Women in Mindanao was established by virtue of a Department of Justice Order within the sprawling prison reservation of Davao Penal Colony in Eastern Mindanao.)  The 11 hectare facility was established on the vast and sprawling Welfareville Estate in Mandaluyong City. It was engulfed in a flame and the entire lumber structure, the whole facility was gutted down quickly.  There was no casualty despite the massive fire.  The women’s facility was rebuilt in the 80s and its population almost tripled.


Leyte Regional Prison is a Martial Law baby, established on January 167, 1973 by virtue of  Presidential Proclamation No. 1101 and its operation through the issuance of a Presidential Decree (29).  It is situated in a remote municipality of Abuyog, Southern Leyte.  While ideally, it has an almost complete organizational complement, it is still fledging in terms of structural and physical attributes.


Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm, located in Sablay, Occidental Mindoro was established on September 26, 1954 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 72.  Sometime in the early 90s,  a portion of said penal farm has been distributed to the victims—whose lands were inundated by massive lahar flow, burying everything under its weight, during the Mount Pinatubo volcanic wrath.  You can reach the place by passing through 9 bridgeless roads, passing through only if and when the transport system can navigate the creeks from the capital town of San Jose City to Sablayan municipality.  During the heightened insurgency conflict in the 80s, it has been noted that rebel (NPA) patrols would partake of prison ration while passing through the area towards their mountain lair camps.  To date, it is host to numerous agro projects by government.  Furthermore, its forest is the breeding ground of an endangered specie of Tamaraw.






About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on June 4, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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