Thee and a half thousand convicts crammed into a total cell area of just three basketball courts. But with the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly war on drugs raging on the outside, many of the inmates tell me they're lucky to be locked up.>> I feel much safer here than outside, because all the people involved in drugs are being killed out there.
It's much better just to stay here.>> Thousands have been killed and thousands more arrested, putting the country's already crowded jails at a bursting point.>> I'm Andrew Marshall, reporting for Reuters from Manila. This is Quezon City Jail, which was originally built to hold about 800 people. By United Nations standards it should hold less than 300, but today, 3,400 inmates have crowded into this tiny area.
At night, the inmates can't be locked in their cells, there simply isn't enough room. Instead, they bed down in this basketball court. And if it rains, they have to squeeze into the chapel, the store room, and the corridors of the prison, anywhere that they can find. At one point there were almost 4,000 inmates in here, and it threatened to go as high as 5,000 before the prison authorities told the courts to essentially stop sending people here.
>> Inmates call it hell, only the lucky ones have beds. Prisoners even crowd the stairwells, one to each stair. And each toilet is shared between a 150 men, meaning sickness spreads easily. In July, there was a cholera outbreak from contaminated water. Duterte's war on drugs is popular with the public, but some critics say it's hitting the country's poor the hardest, and that major traffickers routinely dodge arrest.
The overcrowding at the Quezon City Jail is also a sign of Philippines' justice. While their cases grind through the courts, many of these men will be stuck between these walls for years.