13/11/2016 8:27 AM AEDT

Filipino Prisons Are Running Out Of Space As Duterte's Drug Crackdown Rages On

Some of those jailed consider themselves the lucky ones of the president’s deadly war on drugs.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs has funnelled thousands of suspected criminals off the streets and into the nation’s already-overcrowded prisons.

The new leader came to power after campaigning to tackle the Philippines’ drug crisis with extreme measures ― including physical attacks and murder.

“We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or been put behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish,” Duterte warned shortly after taking office, triggering international condemnation and concern.

Quezon City Jail, the Philippines’ most densely overpopulated penitentiary, currently houses at least 3,800 inmates ― a staggering 3,000 more people than its intended occupancy.

“Many go crazy,” Mario Dimaculangan told AFP news agency of his fellow prisoners in the jail. “They cannot think straight. It’s so crowded. Just the slightest of movements and you bump into something or someone.”

Damir Sagolj/Reuters
Some inmates in prisons such as this one in Quezon City Jail, Metro Manila, say their incarceration at least protects them from the police and vigilante killings beyond prison walls.

Government data shows jails across the country are holding nearly five times more prisoners than they were designed for, the wire service reports. Prison conditions are rapidly deteriorating, leading to limited access to facilities including toilets and causing inmates to sleep on floors and in hallways.

Fears of extrajudicial punishment, which Duterte has consistently condoned and encouraged, have gripped the nation. More than 100,000 people turned themselves into authorities for drug-related offenses within a month of Duterte’s inauguration in late June.

Some inmates consider their incarceration to be a blessing, protecting them from the police and vigilante killings beyond prison walls.

“It’s safer here,” one Filipino prisoner told Reuters. “Outside, if the police want to shoot you, they shoot you, and then say you’re a drug pusher.”

In October, after the death toll of suspected drug criminals surpassed 2,000, police in the Philippines reportedly redirected their focus from killing targets to detaining them.

Take a look at the shocking conditions inside Quezon City Jail.