Philippines

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained children

2017

109,600,000

Population

2020

Overview

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

23 May 2022

Bicutan Immigration Detention Centre (Warden Facility) Seen From Outside (Victoria Derbyshire,
Bicutan Immigration Detention Centre (Warden Facility) Seen From Outside (Victoria Derbyshire, "Inside Manila's 'Gulag' - The Philippine Detention Centre Where Britons Languish in Squalid Conditions," 12 October 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llwSUzmDh7M&ab_channel=HowardJohnson)

The Philippines took measures early in the pandemic to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in detention centres, though measures appear to have targeted prisons rather than immigration centres. In April 2020, authorities announced that some prisoners would be released to alleviate overcrowding and avoid the spread of COVID-19 (see the 18 May 2020 Philippines update). From March to October 2020, the Philippines released 82,000 prisoners. The Bureau of Immigration followed up on this announcement to say that it was speeding up deportation cases and was considering releasing non-citizens detained to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Responding to these announcements, the ICRC delegation in the Philippines underscored the importance of including all types of detention in the COVID measures, saying that it was “important to take stock of the potential gravity of the situation and to step up measures transversally in all places of detention--from police lockups, jails under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), prisons under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), to the provincial jails and immigration detention facilities.”

Among the immigration sites highlighted by the immigration authority was the BI Warden Facility at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, which as of June 2020 was confining 418 non-citizens even though it has a capacity of only 140. However, rather than releasing detainees, the immigration commissioner ordered officials to resolve deportation cases as soon as possible to “reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreak among the foreigners confined in the facility.” Morente said that bail could be given to some detained irregular migrants as well as an option to be released through “recognisance” which allows temporary freedom without posting a fee. The immigration authority has released two pregnant women on bail, while a third expectant mother has been sent back to her country. In May 2020, the immigration authority said that 75 of its personnel at the BI Warden Facility detention facility as well as 84 detainees had tested negative for COVID-19. However, only 84 out of the 418 detainees were tested due to the limited number of test kits.

The government of the Philippines claims that migrants, persons of concern such as refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons in its national vaccination plan. On the other hand, it is unclear whether undocumented migrants will be provided access to the vaccine. According to the UNHCR, in 2020, there were 709 refugees, 397 asylum seekers, 150,368 internally displaced persons and 388 stateless persons in the country. The GDP has been unable to obtain any additional information or details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in migration detention.

A 2019 documentary of the centre in Bicutan revealed the paltry conditions at the facility. Testimonies and photos from detainees showed rats and cockroaches, overcrowding, minimal healthcare conditions, and a lack of basic hygienic facilities like toilets and showers. In addition, immigration detainees are detained alongside criminal detainees and authorities make use of solitary confinement. The centre remained in use as of May 2022.

The key norms relating to immigration detention are provided in the Immigration Act of 1940. According to section 25 of that Act, non-citizens may be detained by immigration officers on board “the vessel bringing them or in such other place as the officers may designate” and “for a sufficient length of time to enable the officers to determine whether they belong to an excluded class and their removal to such other place to be at the expense of the vessel bringing them.” Section 29 of the Act lists the “excluded classes” and includes “(15) persons who have been excluded or deported from the Philippines”; “(16) persons who have been removed from the Philippines at the expense of the Government of the Philippines”; and (17) Persons not properly documented for admission as may be required under the provision of this Act.” In addition, section 45 of the Act provides that any individual who “(d) Being an alien, enters the Philippines without inspection and admission by the immigration officials, or obtains entry into the Philippines by wilful, false, or misleading representation or wilful concealment of a material” (...) shall be fined not more than one thousand pesos, and imprisoned for not more than two years, and deported if he is an alien.”

Moreover, section 13 of the Department of Justice Department Order No.94 of 1998, provides for the provisional release of refugee applicants from detention. Detainees who seek asylum may be released by order of the Department of Justice, the only conditions being that the asylum seeker agrees to follow the requirements of the Refugee Status Determination process.


18 May 2020

Prisoners in the Quezon City Jail Seen From Above, (Maria Tan, AFP,
Prisoners in the Quezon City Jail Seen From Above, (Maria Tan, AFP, "While government stalls, coronavirus breaks into PH jails," Rappler, 18 April 2020, https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/258297-while-government-stalls-coronavirus-breaks-into-philippine-jails)

As of mid-May, the Philippines had nearly 12,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 800 deaths. Since March 15, the Metro Manila region of the country has been subject to a lockdown, including a ban on entry and exit by land, domestic air, and domestic sea, and mandatory home quarantine and social distancing. Restrictions have also been introduced in other regions of the country. The Duterte administration has come under fire from human rights organisations for sanctioning the use of lethal force by the police and security forces to enforce the lockdown, which has resulted in multiple killings and tens of thousands of arrests.

The Philippines is notorious for its overcrowded jails and prisons. On April 17, 9 inmates and 9 prison employees at the Quezon City jail tested positive for COVID-19. On April 21, 18 inmates and one worker in the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong were reported to be infected with COVID-19 after coming into contact with a sick inmate.

Following those incidents in correctional facilities and prisons, on April 22, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said that it would move to “decongest its detention center in Bicutan, Taguig City to reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreak among the foreigners confined in the facility.” It stated that “overcrowding in the facility exposes both the inmates and their guards to the risk of getting infected with the virus.” The Commissioner of the Bureau, Jaime Morente, “ordered the bureau’s legal division and other concerned offices to speed up the resolution of deportation cases against foreigners presently detained at the BI Warden Facility (BIWF) in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan.” He also said that the BI “might consider granting bail and release via recognizance for aliens who cannot be deported yet due to pending court cases.” The same press release noted that BIWF had identified high-risk detainees within the facility, including three pregnant women. Two of these women were released on bail and one was deported.

Regarding conditions in the facility, the press release stated: “Morente previously ordered the creation of a BI-Covid Task Force that would ensure all employees, as well as wards, receive appropriate medical response and Covid-related concerns are properly addressed… To ensure sanitized premises, all wards were advised to always take a bath, and are not allowed to enter common facilities without properly sanitizing themselves. They were likewise informed of DOH protocols in proper handwashing and sanitizing.” No visitors are allowed to enter BIWF. The Philippine National Police has been tapped to assist in securing the facility’s premises.


Last updated:

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Migration Detainees: Flow + Stock (year)
Not Available
2019
Reported Population (Day)
300
2020
Countries of Origin (Year)
China (Korea, South) Japan Vietnam
2020
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
Not Available
2017
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
142,168
2016
108,305
2012
102,267
2009
89,639
2005
67,798
2002
70,383
1999
35,864
1993
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
0.4
2016
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
140
2016
111
2012
111
2009
108
2005
86
2002
94
1999
55
1993

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
109,600,000
2020
100,699,000
2015
International Migrants (Year)
218,530
2019
211,900
2015
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
0.2
2015
Refugees (Year)
680
2019
642
2018
522
2017
382
2016
269
2015
222
2014
New Asylum Applications (Year)
218
2019
105
2016
90
2014
Stateless Persons (Year)
1,068
2018
2,678
2017
4,636
2016
8,619
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
2,872
2014
Remittances to the Country
28,403,500
2015
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (in Millions USD)
675.7
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
115 (Medium)
2015

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

Custodial Authorities
Bureau of Immigration (Department of Justice) Justice
2006
Bureau of Immigration (Department of Justice) Justice
2004

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

DETENTION MONITORS

TRANSPARENCY

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

HEALTH CARE

COVID-19 DATA

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
2012
2012
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
2011
2011
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2008
2008
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2002
2002
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
2002
2002
ICRMW, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
1995
1995
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1990
1990
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1986
1986
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
1986
1986
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1981
1981
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1981
1981
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1981
1981
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
1974
1974
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1967
1967
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1965
1965
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 15/19
Individual Complaints Procedures
Acceptance Year
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 1989
1989
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2003
2003
Ratio of Complaints Procedures Accepted
Observation Date
2/7
2017

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2008
2017
No 2012
2017
No 2017
2017

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Regional Legal Instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
Observation Date
ASEAN CATPWC Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children 2017
2017
2017

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Common law
2017
Civil law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS