A man was killed after an overturned bucket of water sparked a vicious gang fight in a notoriously overcrowded Philippine prison.
Yesterday’s violence at Quezon City jail was confirmed by duty officer Norberto Felicen today (Saturday, November 4).
He said: “We have 3,424 inmates in a facility built to hold 800 people. Wherever there is an open space, they have to use it to sleep. That is one of the factors that caused the riot.”
The fighting broke out when detained members of the Bahala Na gang were carrying one of their number to the jail’s clinic, after he had suffered a seizure.
As they passed by some sleeping members of a rival gang they overturned a bucket of water, splashing them awake.
Assuming it was a deliberate provocation, they began to fight. The violence escalated until both sides began using any weapon that came to hand, including rocks and chairs.
By the time order had been restored, one inmate was killed. A short time later, the prisoner who had suffered a seizure died in the jail’s clinic.
The incident is now being investigated.
The photographs showed prisoners crammed together filling every available surface. It was also reported that in some cases detainees were forced to take it in turns to sleep.
New York based Human Rights Watch criticised the conditions, saying the pictures were “straight out of Dante’s Purgatory” — a reference to the medieval Italian writer’s account of a descent into hell.
Even before President Duterte took office last year, the Philippine penal system was ranked as the third most congested in the world, according to the University of London’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research.
However, following a visit to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City last month, the president declared himself to be satisfied with the conditions, and promised to install televisions in each cell.