New Bilibid Prison is the premiere penal facility in the country, sometimes referred to as the National Penitentiary or  plain “Muntinlupa.”  The name of the city, especially its fearsome connotation, came directly from the central penal facility which is always featured in movies, news and other media projections as the massive concrete confinement of the country’s dreaded criminals, also the seat of the equally dreaded death chamber.  It is a 9 hectare quadrangle housing some 12,000 prisoners mostly sentenced to life imprisonment.  Although its ideal accommodation capacity is good for 5,000, the population ballooned for the last ten years.

It is one among seven prisons and penal farms under the supervision of the Bureau of Corrections.  It maintains more than one half of the entire prison population in the whole archipelago.  Its ground and administrative offices is host to the Bureau of Corrections leadership also that is why whatever happens in NBP reflects directly on the demeanor and direction of the one on top. 

Once upon a time,  in the mid 60s, NBP was the site of the worst serial violent riots that ever visited the penal facility since its foundation.  Scores of inmates perished in one of the most gruesome viciousness of gang wars.  A number of prison personnel also were virtual casualties during the lethal confrontation.  It was a no man’s land for quite a time.   Since then, it would be a scar difficult to erase.  After a period of unforgiving ferocity came spring.  With its introduction was born a number of unfortunate scandals visiting its perimeter on a regular basis.  To claim that the facility is cursed is an understatement.

It has gained a negative reputation with several controversies it has been slapped later.  While it can be said that the inmates were themselves a picture of controversy, which were representations of sensational cases, how they are treated, managed and contained presented another angle of dispute.   Whether incarceration can be a prescription to rehabilitate wayward behavior is another issue subject for debate and further study.  It is merely presumed that segregating an offender and kept in the prison community and subjecting them to a barrage of educational stimulation would in time soften their offensive proclivities in favor of reformation.  Studies reveal that it is so.

For the last two decades, NBP has also been an enforced sanctuary of those sentenced to death penalty, high risk inmates and high profile celebrity prisoners as well.  There was National Artist Amado V. Hernandez, film action star Eddie Fernandez, comedian Berting Labra, tinsel town heart throb Robin Padilla, controversial scion Hubert Webb, former Congressmen Junior de Guzman, Romeo Jalosjos,  Baby Asistio, politician former Mayor Antonio Sanchez, Bingbong Crisologo, Antonio Leviste, activists Ka Nilo Tayag, Ka Jimmy Tadeo, rebels Ka Luis Taruc, and a host of eminent/ notorious personalities from various sectors of our society.  Their luminary status deflected on the drab and monotonous environment of prisons.

On top of that, the premiere facility is almost a permanent asylum for hundreds of notorious characters—the drug lords, the gambling lords, local Mafiosi.  In their midst are also those categorized as sexually deranged, mentally unstable, criminally insane, violent types, all considered as pure predators.  From their ranks are born the leaders of various prison gangs operating within the enclosed four walls, imposing control and exercising jurisdiction side by side institutional workers and security personnel.

All of the inmates are cramped inside an enclave with token partition and makeshift dividers constricted within prison dormitories designed as communal barracks but subdivided into personal shacks to project privacy even on a tentative basis only.  Life inside the four massive walls is already a stiff challenge for the denizens.  Behind every stare is a blank face trying to understand where salvation is in the deafening silence of a compacted humanity.  It is also a gargantuan task for prison officers to govern what could have been a haven debased with frustration and delimited by competent discipline.

Everyone must strive to survive the regime of congestion.  They must acclimatize their nostrils on damp humid surroundings, cover their mouths while passing on filthy corners and familiarize their skin from cracked insect infested walls.  Walking along the corridors for an hour is equivalent to a lifetime of emotional hardship already.

The prison community pulsates with feigned order.  Its denizens engrossed in contrived activities.  Some are creatively wholesome, others ingeniously deadly.  There is no denying that tranquility is a wish and that harmony lies beneath every yearning to fulfill freedom whatever its cost.

These and more await whoever is tasked to administer the national penitentiary.


About vjtesoro

A perpetual student of Corrections

Posted on July 9, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Its difficult to get knowledgeable people on this subject, but you appear to be you know what youre talking about! Thanks


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