The New Bilibid Prison: 10 amazing facts nobody told you about

By | 10:19 PM 1 comment
The New Bilibid Prison: 10 amazing facts nobody told you about
There's a lot to this place other than tennis courts, jacuzzis and bags of shabu.

Here's the ten most amazing facts about the Bilibid penitentiary that you probably haven't heard of.

1. The word Bilibid is a Filipino noun which literally means "twine, cord, string, etc. wound around something."

2. The original Bilibid prison was formerly situated in Manila and was then known as "Carcel y Presidio Correccional" established by the Spanish colonial government on 25 June 1865. Back then, it could only accommodate a little over a thousand inmates.

3. When population grew, the Bilibid was transferred to a 551-hectare piece of land in Muntinlupa City, at that time considered to be "remote." It was built in 1936 with a budget of just one million pesos.

4. Throughout the Japanese Occupation during World War 2, the Bilibid was transformed into a Prisoner of War (POW) camp and housed more than 13,000 POWs, the great majority of them Americans.

5. The electric chair (silya elektrika) first arrived at the Bilibid on January 22, 1941, but executions did not take place until April 1950, when Julio Gullien was executed for attempting to assassinate President Manuel Roxas.

6. In total, 51 people were electrocuted up to 1961, including Marcial "Baby" Ama who "sat" the chair at the age of 16 on October 4, 1961.

7. The electric chair was used until 1976, when execution by firing squad eventually replaced it as the sole method of execution under Ferdinand Marcos' 20-year authoritarian rule.

8. The Bilibid originally housed 3,000 inmates. Today, the number has exponentially increased to around 20,000 prisoners.

9. Among the most notable inmates who were imprisoned inside the Bilibid were:

  • Amado V. Hernández, a National Artist for Literature who wrote his masterpieces while imprisoned in the facility.
  • Actor Robin Padilla, who converted to Islam and wed his first wife, Liezl Sicangco, while serving a 2-year prison sentence for illegal weapons possession. He was released in 1998 after having been granted pardon by President Fidel Ramos.
  • Claire Phillips, American spy who was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1951.
  • Former senator Jovito Salonga was imprisoned by the Kempetai on April 1942, during the onset of the Japanese Occupation in World War II.
  • Claudio Teehankee, Jr., the son of former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, Sr., who was convicted of murder, homicide and attempted murder on 6 October 1995.
  • Hubert Webb, the son of former senator Freddie Webb, was convicted on 6 January 2000 for his alleged role in the 1991 Vizconde Massacre. The Supreme Court later acquitted Webb on 14 December 2010.
  • General Tomoyuki Yamashita was the commander of the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines in 1944. He was incarcerated while undergoing trial for war crimes committed during the Japanese Occupation and was eventually executed by hanging in Los Baños, Laguna on 23 February 1946.
  • Luis Taruc, who pleaded guilty to a charge of rebellion in 1954 and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He was later sentenced to four life terms for additional crimes. He was pardoned in 1968 by president Ferdinand Marcos.

10. In December, 2014, police operations confiscated bags of “shabu” and other illegal drugs, firearms, drug paraphernalia, firearms, expensive gadgets, flat screen TVs, sex toys, pornography, luxury items, and even a music recording studio, a stripper bar and Jacuzzi spread, not to mention millions of pesos in cash during body searches of high profile convicts.


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