Featured photo © Sidney Snoeck. Used with permission.
Howdy folks. For those of you who follow my videos, you will probably be aware of the fact that I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Philippines. The capital city of Manila has become a second home to me and I have spent more time there than any other place outside of the United States. I love everything about the Philippines. The food, the culture, and most of all, the hospitality of the people. I have said this in the past, and I will say it again. Filipinos are some of the most wonderful people in the world.
Something that I have noticed about Filipino people during my time in the Philippines is that they don’t seem to be freaked out by cameras. This includes those in law enforcement. I have documented the activities of law enforcement in the country, such as what is seen in this video here. From my past experiences I have come to the conclusion that Filipino cops in general don’t seem to have a problem with being on camera.
So when I decided to conduct an audit outside the Manila City Jail, I didn’t think it would be a problem.
Before I go any further, let me share with you all a little history. What now serves as Manila’s main jail facility, used to be called Bilibid Prison. Built during the Spanish colonial period, the facility opened in 1865 and became the country’s first national penitentiary. Bilibid Prison was designed to house a little more than one thousand inmates. But due to a rising crime rate, construction on a new prison began in 1936 in nearby Muntinlupa City. By 1940 all inmates had been transferred to what was now known as New Bilibid Prison.
During World War II, the Japanese used Bilibid Prison to house internees, as well as POW’s, during their occupation of the Philippines. Following the Battle Of Manila, which began on February 3, 1945, all POW’s and internees, which totaled more than 1,200, were liberated after American troops from the 37th Ohio National Guard brook through the wall of the compound.
Today Bilibid Prison is now the Manila City Jail, which houses pretrial detainees and inmates sentenced to a term of no more than 3 years. It is run by the Bureau Of Jail Management & Penology, the agency responsible for running all city, district, and municipal jails in the country. The national prison system is run by a separate agency, the Bureau Of Corrections.
What was originally designed to house a little more than one thousand inmates, Manila City Jail is now home to nearly 5,000. Many of those in custody will wait six months to a year before going to their arraignment. Living conditions inside the Manila City Jail can vary depending on the kind of funds you have. If you are able to afford it, you can purchase a “condo”, which is in a reality a single cell. If not, you sleep on the floor in a dorm with several hundred other inmates.
In March of 2016 I was given a rare and unique opportunity to spend the night inside the Manila City Jail. How I was able to do that without being arrested is another story all in itself that I’ll be happy to share with you all at a later time. But I was able to document my experiences inside of the Manila City Jail by means of video recording. How was I able to get a video camera into a place where cameras are strictly forbidden? Well, that is another story as well.
Now most recently I found myself in the Philippines once again. So I decided to head over to the Manila City Jail and conduct an audit. Now before any of you reading this start going off about how I have no right to video record in the Philippines, let me explain something to you all. The Philippines has their own version of the First Amendment and it reads as follows:
Philippine Constitution, Article III, Section 4: “No law shall be passed abridging the
freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably
to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
So even in a country like the Philippines, I do have a right to film in public. Now whether my rights under Philippine law are respected by those in positions of authority is another matter entirely. But hey, isn’t the whole purpose of conducting an audit to see if our rights will be respected? If I am missing something, please don’t hesitate to enlighten me.
One of the interesting things about the Manila City Jail is that it is located right next to a major transit hub. It is where lines 1 and 2 of the Light Rail Transit(LRT) meet. I actually conducted an audit of the security checkpoint at the nearby LRT Recto Station. There is a pedestrian platform that connects the Doroteo Jose and Recto stations that runs right past the Manila City Jail. You can actually look right down into the facility from that platform. Sometimes inmates in the yard will try to get your attention by waiving or shouting. In the opening scene of my audit you see a group of inmates working out in the yard. Those inmates are from Dorm 8, which houses members of the Bahala Na Gang. Dorm 8 is the dorm that I stayed in when I spent the night there.
Being that the LRT platform gives anyone who is interested a clear view of the jail facility, I did not think it would be a big deal to go film the main entrance. It just happened to be the perfect timing because shortly after I showed up at the main entrance some prisoner transport vehicles, that were bringing inmates back from their scheduled court appearances, arrived.
But this is where I encountered some officers from the BJMP who were not too thrilled to see me filming them. One in particular seemed completely oblivious to the fact that I filming him. But once he noticed me he started freaking out. Pointing and frantically waiving his hands about, this officer seemed as though he had just come across a member of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group who was pointing an AK 47 at him opposed to some random guy holding a video camera.
In the end none of these officers did anything. I continued filming without incident. But this brings me to a question that some people have asked me. Why do an audit in a foreign country? To this question I respond with a question. Why do an audit anywhere? The answer is very simple. Public education. If I am in a foreign country, such as the Philippines, and I am given the opportunity to educate the public about their rights as free citizens, as well as educating public officials about the rights of those free citizens, then by all means I will. Although I don’t think I’d attempt to conduct an audit in Iran.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this and for following my First Amendment Audits on my Nasty Nathanial channel. I really appreciate all of your support as it really does mean a lot to me. I will continue to bring you quality videos, as well bringing you the latest news in the First Amendment Auditing community here on Black Coat Media. Merry Christmas everyone. Alrrrriiiight!