South Cotabato Jail is one of the most overcrowded prisons in the world. It houses murderers, rapists, drug dealers, guilty and innocent people – all crammed together in an inescapable space. Originally designed to hold 600 prisoners, the jail is now home to over 2000 inmates, who are packed into cells that are as small as shoeboxes.
The conditions at the prison are inhuman. The inmates live in cramped spaces with tropical heat and insufficient water. The worst part is that many of the inmates have not even been convicted. As a result of President Duterte’s war on drugs, the Filipino justice system is overwhelmed and accused persons are unfairly forced to await a verdict in barbaric conditions.
What’s more, the jail is controlled by the inmates, and the guards are outnumbered and unable to control the situation. El Presidente, Glecerio de Pedro, and his henchmen rule the prison, deciding the status and privileges of other inmates. Meanwhile, the guards can only resort to surprise inspection in an effort to exert authority. Unfortunately, nothing seems to change the situation.
The daily struggle for survival, space and air remain ubiquitous for the prisoners. Newcomer Ronniel Dumagit is about to get a rude awakening to the jail system, the hierarchy and what he must do to survive.
This is a real-life story that must be seen to be believed. A documentary that exposes the plight of these inmates and the failed system in the Philippines. “Behind Bars: South Cotabato Jail” is an eye-opening, unflinching look at the dire prison conditions and the lives of the inmates inside. Watch it today and be part of the solution.