Latest Stories

US nationals warned about poor conditions in Philippine prisons


MANILA, Philippines—Americans in the Philippines have been advised to keep their noses clean because the US government will not be able to help them if they are sentenced to prison.

“Be prepared to face the realities of what are by American standards inadequate facilities, poor food and deficient sanitation in prisons,” warned the US Embassy in Manila.

American nationals who happen to be “in detention after arrest or are already serving a prison term upon conviction” in the country “should provide the embassy with the names of family or friends for financial assistance to enable you to buy dietary supplements and basic necessities like soap and toothpaste,” the embassy said in an “Emergency Services” advisory posted on its website.

According to the mission, “the consul can help you arrange for remittances to be sent so as to ensure that the money reaches you intact.”

The embassy also warned that “because of the incidence of violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act of the Philippines, it is necessary that Americans facing drug charges understand that stiff penalties are meted out to offenders.”

“It is not correct to assume—as many do—that the worst punishment an American can receive for such a violation is deportation. Offenders are generally arrested by operatives of the Philippine National Police (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) and until granted bail–which is not allowed in all cases–they remain in the custody and generally are confined in the rehabilitation center at Camp Bicutan in Taguig (City). In some drug cases where the amount found is more than 40 grams bail may not be available,” it said.

The embassy noted that “under the amended Dangerous Drugs Act, the penalty for the use or possession of 750 grams or more of marijuana is reclusion perpetua (20-40 years) to death. The possession or use of prohibited drugs in the amount of 40 grams or more, such as opium, heroin, cocaine or hallucinogens, carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua to death plus immediate deportation after completion of the sentence.”

“As of now, there is a moratorium of undefined length on executions,” the embassy noted.

It reminded US nationals that while in the Philippines, they are “subject to Philippine laws and regulations which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not provide the same protections available in the US.”

“Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the US for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in the Philippines are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines,” it said.

The mission also said the US government “cannot arrange for an American citizen to be released from jail or prison.”

“US citizenship does not entitle anyone to special privileges in the Philippine legal system. The US embassy does not have the authority to intervene in the Philippine justice system and cannot act as a legal representative or provide legal advice to US citizens,” it said.

But the embassy made the assurance that the US Department of State is “committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for American citizens imprisoned overseas.”

“We assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international, US and Philippine laws. We monitor conditions in foreign prisons and protest allegations of abuse against American prisoners. We work with prison officials to seek treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards of human rights and due process.”

“An embassy duty officer is always available for emergency assistance. The embassy’s American Citizen Services Section is available to assist in all matters relating to the arrest of an American citizen,” it said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Crime , Foreign affairs , Human Rights , Illegal Drugs , justice system , law and justice , Philippines , Prison , US embassy

  • Rj Nieto

    The US is right about this, except when the prisoner is an ex-president.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VDMUJ6NKKCLWRMVMJRLJFI633I Rene V

    3rd world criminal justice system’s punishment for offenders is PUNITIVE. this is punishment for criminals PERIOD (well, in the Philippines, there are exceptions HAHAHA).
    it is only right for the US Embassy to caution its citizens against committing crimes in the Philippines which is only right for an embassy to do and also to remind them that 3rd world prisons are not like the heaven that is the prison system found in some states of the USA.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VDMUJ6NKKCLWRMVMJRLJFI633I Rene V

    joboni96, huwag tayong magtago na nasyonalismo. totoo namang hindi maganda ang sistema ng prisons system natin. sa presinto pa lang, may isang pulis na tinali iyung t_t_ ng isang kriminal at hinla ng hinila. i would tell my younger relatives to lay off crime because of the horrendous criminality done to offenders by the authorities themselves. may exceptions to the rule – influence and money are needed at wala akong ganuon para tulungan ang mga ganuong klaseng kamag anak. Magdusa sila!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C5QMMYAGTH5VS7YLHQMJVZ2AWU Good

    “Be prepared to face the realities of what are by American standards inadequate facilities, poor food and deficient sanitation in prisons,” warned the US Embassy in Manila.

    Wow, these are straightforward, true, and honest warnings about prisons in the Philippines. Americans should really keep their nose clean while in the philippines.

    But the warnings should be well-balanced.

    The embassy should also warn americans that everything is possible in the Philippines. If an american is in a difficult situation, he can hire topnotch defense lawyers like Topacio, Lambino, Mendoza, fortun, flaminiano, and these lawyers will defend the client whatever it takes, even writing a letter to the supreme cult. Even when there is a judgment against an american, a motion for reconsideration of up to 5 times is not impossible with the current supreme cult.

    In order to avoid prison, there is a medical center which offers the suite at Php50,000 per night, and once the malingering is no longer feasible, the accused or convict could also ask the court that he be detained in “Embassy Arrest.”


  • Anonymous

    ‘inadequate facilities, poor food and deficient sanitation in prisons,” warned the US Embassy in Manila’

    Hey, don’t discount this one, it might help those fat and obese americans to go into forced diet huh?

  • Anonymous

    No wonder GMA’s JocJoc Bolante would rather stay in a USA prison than going back home to admit his participation in the fleecing of the nation through his magic snake oil fertilizer scheme.  Compared to USA prisons, Philippine prisons are death sentences.

  • Anonymous

    HAWR! HAWR! HAWR!  Philippine prisons practice inhumane condition despite their belief in MERCIFUL GOD !!!!  

    The more people believe in God the more they practice brutal, cruel and unusual punishment in the most dire of conditions …..

    THAT IS WHY FILIPINOS WOULD RATHER WANT TO BE INCARC ERATED IN AMERICA.  AMERICAN PRISONS ARE LIKE hOTEL hILTON.  Freshly ironed bed sheets every day.  3-sunny side up, pancakes, bottomless brewed coffee, sausages.  and they do not have to wash dishes after eating !  HAWR! HAWr! HAWR! HAWr!

    IN pHILIPPINE PRISON, PATAY.  Yippeee Happy Yahweh !!!!  thruout the day !!!  HAWR! HAWR! HAWR!

  • Anonymous

    Anyways the Philippines is a huge penal colony …. Everyone is suffering !!!  HAWr! HAWR! HAWR!  The condition in Philippine prison is better than outside the prison !!!


Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  5. Believe it or not: Filipinos love US more than Yanks
  6. PH, HK end bitter row; sanctions lifted
  7. PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  8. Obama arrives in Tokyo, first stop of 4-nation tour
  9. Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  10. US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  1. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  2. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  3. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  4. Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  5. 85% of Filipinos love US – survey
  6. 10 US presidents who visited the PH (and what they said)
  7. WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  8. 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  9. 150 Filipino teachers in Maryland to lose jobs, visas
  10. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  1. US to China: We will protect Philippines
  2. Japan mulls no visa rule for Filipinos
  3. DFA grants visa-free privilege to 7 countries
  4. China warned: Don’t try to tow away BRP Sierra Madre
  5. Back home in Manila, and feeling out of place
  6. Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  7. Japan presents $57-B ‘dream plan’ to solve Metro congestion
  8. China: PH tarnishing Beijing’s international image
  9. What’s inside BRP Sierra Madre?
  10. Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted


  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Corporate bonds sweeteners
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Complex health care system for California’s elderly and poor explained
  • Marketplace