Bilibid hospital has no showers, uses drums instead

Aika Rey

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Bilibid hospital has no showers, uses drums instead

LeAnne Jazul

'One hour in the morning and afternoon, parang buhos-buhos lang,' says Ernesto Tamayo, prison hospital director for health services, on time inmates have to shower


MANILA, Philippines – Inmates at one of the wards at the New Bilibid Prison Hospital have no showers. Instead, they only use drums filled with water to take a bath.

“Sa ‘min sa Ward 3, one hour in the morning, one hour in the afternoon [mag-shower]. Lacking ang tubig. Sa Ward 3 sa ospital, walang shower doon,” said graft convict Jose Galario Jr, a former mayor of Valencia City, Bukidnon, on Thursday, September 12. 

(In Ward 3, we only have one hour in the morning, one hour in the afternoon to shower. We lack water. In Ward 3 of the hospital, there are no showers.)

Asked by Senate blue ribbon committee chair Richard Gordon during the 5th Senate hearing on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law to confirm the statement, Bilibid Hospital director for health services Ernesto Tamayo answered in the affirmative. (READ: ‘Palpak!’ Ill-prepared BuCor list wrongly grants GCTA to Janet Napoles)

“Tama po. Drums, your honor. One hour in the morning and afternoon, parang buhos-buhos lang,” Tamayo said. (That’s right. They are using drums. One hour in the morning and afternoon, they just pour the water.)

Galario said he would give the Bilibid hospital a failing mark for sanitation.

Tamayo added that the hospital is being “condemned” by international bodies such as the United Nations for its current condition. The Bilibid Hospital is categorized merely as an “infirmary,” he said, because it is not up to par with international standards.


According to Tamayo, the penitentiary hospital has 500 beds but has only 8 doctors.

“We cannot do a major operation, like mga saksakan (stab wounds). We can only do first aid…Then we transfer them to a government hospital, sa Ospital ng Muntinlupa (to Muntinlupa Public Hospital).

Acting Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Melvin Ramon Buenafe on Thursday also said the root problem lies in the lack of facilities.

“The facilities itself is inadequate that’s why comforts like this or the basics, we can’t say that these are adequate,” Buenafe said.

Apart from sanitation, another problem inside the prison is food.

At the hearing, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said an inmate at the minimum security informed him how unpleasant food is at the state penitentiary.

“May lumapit sa ‘kin na preso at meron siyang sinumbong na sinusuhulan siya ng P800 para hindi magreklamo sa kinakain araw-araw. Di ‘nya raw masikmura ‘yung pinapakain sa kanila,” Go said.

(An inmate told me that somebody is offering him P800 in exchange for not complaining about the food they eat every day. The inmate said that he couldn’t take what’s fed them.)

Buenafe said that this is the first time he heard of such claim.

Asked whether Bilibid is trying to be self-sustaining, Buenafe said no.

Gordon asked: “Can Ihawig [Prison and Penal Farm] plant for the whole bureau?”

In response, Buenafe said: “We will try. Target is sustenance.”


At the hearing, the new BuCor chief seemed to be more concerned with the capital outlay that the prisons need.

Buenafe said the state penitentiary needs more facilities to institute segregation of convicts, whether they fall under minimum or maximum security.

He added that BuCor needs more equipment such as tracking devices.

“We need support very badly, modernong (modern) equipment, monitoring devices for every inmate or PDL (person deprived of liberty) that is incarcerated so that we can track even if we allow them to undergo activities related to reformation programs,” Buenafe said.

The acting prisons chief also raised the need for manpower, and the creation of a module that will focus particularly on maintaining prisons. (READ: Heinous crime convicts still entitled to lesser GCTA – Guevarra)

“We need to infuse new blood and train them appropriately…We need to come up with a program of instruction that is really fitted to be detailed in this kind of institution and environment they are going to face,” Buenafe said. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at