FAST FACTS: The Correctional Institution for Women

Reynaldo Santos Jr

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FAST FACTS: The Correctional Institution for Women
Get to know the Philippines' first and only penal institution exclusively for women offenders – and the new detention place of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind, Janet Lim Napoles

MANILA, Philippines – The Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) serves as the new place of detention of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles after she was found guilty on Tuesday, April 14, of serious illegal detention.

The women’s prison will now serve as the new home of Napoles, who was transferred early Thursday morning from her detention at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

CIW, located in Mandaluyong City, is the country’s first and only penal institution dedicated to women offenders. It is one of the 7 operating units under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). The other 6 are:

  • The New Bilibid Prison (Muntinlupa City)
  • Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (Puerto Princesa City, Palawan)
  • Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (Occidental Mindoro)
  • San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm (Zamboanga City)
  • Leyte Regional Prison (Abuyog, Leyte)
  • Davao Prison and Penal Farm (Panabo, Davao del Norte)

CIW was born via the signing of Act No. 3579 on November 1929, which authorized the transfer of all-women inmates of the Old Bilibid Prison in Manila to a new facility. Some 270 female inmates were transferred on February 1931 to a building in Mandaluyong (then part of Rizal) that was initially called the Women’s Prison.

It was later renamed to CIW “in keeping with emerging trends in penology, which emphasized correction rather than punishment.”

The original building was gutted by fire in 1982 due to faulty wiring, and was reconstructed more than a year later.

Congestion, expansion

CIW faced congestion problems as it welcomed an increasing number of inmates. Former BuCor officer-in-charge Celso Bravo narrated in a report:

Dormitories with single beds had to be replaced with two bunk beds that could accommodate 4 people at a time. Common areas were converted into dormitories to give room to the growing population. Inmates said good-bye to some of their hallways and their mess hall to relieve the congestion problem.

In 2002, the National Statistical Coordination Board reported that CIW was actually the most congested facility among the 7 operating units under BuCor. While the New Bilibid Prison registered an 85% congestion rate (with 16,134 population but only 8,700 capacity), CIW posted a higher 90% congestion rate (with 951 population but only 500 capacity)

Expansion of the facility first came on June 16, 2003 with the construction of an extension building in Mandaluyong City. Then on September 18, 2007, it opened a branch in Mindanao – the Correctional Institution for Women in Mindanao (CIWM), a satellite prison under the supervision and direction of the Davao Prison and Penal Farm administration.

Bravo admitted, however, that these extensions “helped the issue of congestion, but did not solve it.”

By the time Napoles was admitted to the facility, CIW officer-in-charge Edilinda Patac admitted in news reports that they have a capacity of 1,500, but are currently hosting 2,273 inmates. Patac, however, clarified that the facility’s dormitories, each housing 50 to 100 inmates, remain clean and orderly despite the congestion.

In 2013, President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10575, which modernizes the BuCor by “upgrading its facilities, increasing the number of its personnel, upgrading the level of qualifications of their personnel and standardizing their base pay, retirement and other benefits.” This law aims to improve, among others, the 1:144 guard-to-inmate ratio in CIW.


INMATES. Inmates gather at the CIW grounds. Photo from the Bureau of Corrections

According to Bravo’s report, the Reception and Diagnostic Center, the receiving arm of BuCor, admits inmates and classifies them based on their security status (maximum, medium, minumum) for 60 days. Inmates undergo psychiatric, psychological, medical, and other examinations during this period.

Upon arrival at CIW, inmates are brought to the Receiving Office, where they will go through an inspection. Items like money will be taken and put in their prison record, while drugs and medicines will be given to a medical officer for dispensation.

Then they will be photographed for identification purposes, given a haircut, and issued prison uniforms and equipment. They will then be taken into quarantine for 5 days.

In a news report, Patac said that the 60 days under the Reception and Diagnostic Center will serve as the inmate’s reformation. After this period, the inmate will then be allowed to mingle with the other inmates.


Bravo stated in his report that CIWʼs approach to rehabilitation “involves religion, education, livelihood and social skills – all of which are needed for the inmatesʼ preparation for their release.”

He added that the facility provides a work program that “keeps the inmates busy, provides them money for their personal expenses and family, and helps them acquire livelihood skills.”

In a 2006 Ombudsman report, CIW inmates were found to be engaged in handicraft, swine, poultry, and small-scale vegetable production.

Among the products produced by the inmates are solar-powered lamps made especially for victims of Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas.

The report stated that CIW inmates get a P100-compensation “for various works in its agro-industrial projects,” while those “involved in making religious articles and handicrafts are paid per piece by CIW’s private contracting partner.”

The report added: “It is interesting to note that the CIW has more or less 20 NGOs that extend various assistance to its inmates in different areas such as livelihood, religion, and education, among others. There is a gallery located near the control gate where the listing of NGOs is displayed.” –

SOURCES: Bureau of Corrections, Office of the Ombudsman, National Statistical Coordination Board,,, various news websites

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