A Rare Look At Life Inside The Philippines’ Most Overcrowded Prison

Quezon City jail in Philippines was initially built for 800 inmates but currently houses over 4,000 — and counting.

Inside Quezon City jail in Manila, Philippines, there is a constant battle among inmates for food, space and water.

More than 4,000 prisoners are packed like sardines in the city’s notorious prison facility. The place, which was created in 1953 to house 800 inmates, now houses over five times that amount of prisoners — and it's shoving in even more, thanks to President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs.

Conditions inside the building are inhumane. There are no cells built inside the facility and the men are left to their own devices to find a place to sleep. What bunks are provided are stacked at least three high and the rest of the inmates have to crawl under these wobbly structures to bed in for the night or find some other place — like a hammock suspended from the ceiling.

Worn out towels and curtains, even pieces of plywood, are put up to maintain some privacy but it’s virtually impossible in such a cramped place. There are no separate rooms for the unwell and inmates even have to share unclean utensils frequently.

“The food is terrible,” said inmate Alex Baltran. “And it's hard to find a space to sleep, especially when it rains.”

Many inmates who could go home are unable to afford bail, which is usually as low as 4000 to 6000 pesos ($86 to $129), according to the prison’s senior inspector, Joey Doguiles. The court system also works at a snail’s pace.

It's hell on earth for these prisoners who do not even have the comfort of knowing when they might gain their freedom. All they can do is wait while their president’s war on drugs squeezes in even more inmates in a place already bursting at the seams.

Read More: Philippines’ New President Does Not Care A Whit About Human Rights