Country Listing

Philippines Table of Contents


The Correctional System

In the late 1980s, institutions for the confinement of convicts and the detention of those awaiting trial included a variety of national prisons and penal farms as well as numerous small local jails and lockups. In general, the national prisons housed more serious offenders, and those serving short-term sentences were held in local facilities. The prison system at the national level was supervised by the Bureau of Prisons of the Department of Justice. The bureau was responsible for the safekeeping of prisoners and their rehabilitation through general and moral education and technical training in industry and agriculture. The bureau also oversaw the operation of prison agro-industries and the production of food commodities. In 1991 the newly formed Philippine National Police took over administration of local jails.

The government maintained six correctional institutions and penal farms. The nation's largest prison was the National Penitentiary at Muntinlupa, Rizal Province, near Manila, which also operated the Manila City Jail. The penitentiary served as the central facility for those sentenced to life imprisonment or long-term incarceration. It was divided into two camps to separate those serving maximum and minimum penalties. The Correctional Institution for Women was located in Metropolitan Manila. Combination prison and penal farms also were located in Zamboanga City, and in Palawan, Mindoro Occidental, and in several Mindanao provinces. Prison conditions in the Philippines were generally poor, and prison life was harsh.

Some prison inmates were eligible for parole and probation. Before serving their sentence, felons, who were not charged with subversion or insurgency, or had not been on probation before, could apply for probation. Probationers were 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 could apply to their parole board for release. The board could also recommend pardon to the president for prisoners it believed to have reformed and who presented no menace to society.

In 1991 crime still was a serious, if somewhat reduced, threat to the general peace and security of society and was aggravated by corruption in the police and court systems. The politicization of the military was seen as a long-term problem and the threat of a military coup remained significant. The threat of a CPP-led takeover seemed to be receding as NPA guerrilla strength ebbed. The socioeconomic roots of the revolutionary movement remained and promised to make the insurgency a problem for some time to come, despite its slow decline. The government also recognized the continuing threat posed by well-armed Filipino Muslim rebels, although few feared a near-term resurgent Moro uprising. External security threats were not perceived.

* * *

A series of well-researched books published in the late 1980s added immensely to the available body of work on the Philippine communist insurgency. William Chapman's Inside the Philippine Revolution offers unique insights on the revolutionary movement. Richard Kessler's Rebellion and Repression in the Philippines provides a thorough review of the insurgency, especially its social and cultural roots. Gregg Jones's Red Revolution combines discussions of the CPP's historical development with revealing interviews with communist leaders and first-hand reports on guerrilla commanders and political cadres in the field. Although predictably dogmatic, books by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison--Philippine Society and Revolution and The Philippine Revolution--present the theoretical underpinnings of the insurgency (the former appears under his nom de guerre, Amado Guerrero). Annual updates on the progress of the communist movement can be found in the Yearbook on International Communist Affairs.

Comprehensive studies of the Philippine military are few. Richard Kessler's Rebellion and Repression in the Philippines provides the most thorough examination of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their strengths and weaknesses. The history of Philippine civil-military relations is explored by two doctoral dissertations: Donald L. Berlin's "Prelude to Martial Law" and Carolina Hernandez's "The Extent of Civilian Control of the Military in the Philippines." More current information on the military's role in politics can be found in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asian Defence Journal, and Pacific Defence Reporter.

Standard references on military capabilities include annual editions of The Military Balance, prepared by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency's World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers. Jane's Infantry Weapons, Jane's Armour and Artillery, Jane's All the World's Aircraft, and Jane's Fighting Ships also are useful. The military's human rights performance is reviewed annually by the Amnesty International Report and by the United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of June 1991

Country Listing

Philippines Table of Contents