World·CBC IN MANILA

Drug arrests prison bursting at the seams

The Quezon City jail in the Philippines is jammed with suspected drug offenders who have been imprisoned under President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called drug war.

Since the president of the Philippines' launched his war on drugs, Quezon City Jail has been overcrowded

Inside the Quezon City jail

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4 years agoVideo
3:30
In one of the Philippines' most crowded jails, prisoners must sleep in stairwells and basketball courts 3:30

The Quezon City jail in the Philippines is jammed with suspected drug offenders who have been imprisoned under President Rodrigo Duterte's so-called drug war.

There were 2,650 inmates when the CBC visited in March — in a facility that was built for 800. And that's down from it's a peak of over 4,000 inmates last fall.

Still, the place is so crowded that men sleep in stairwells and on the basketball court.

One 46-square-metre room, incredibly, slept 130 men, two to a bunk three bunks high.

One might imagine the men would complain about the overcrowding, but some said they are happier in jail than out on the street where an estimated 7,000 drug offenders have been shot dead since Duterte was elected last summer.

Another oddity here is that each inmate and guard has to learn the prison dance, and when visitors like the CBC crew arrive they are asked to perform it. The lyrics to the song encourage the men to keep fit and strong and reassures those facing court dates. 

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