Trapped in a Broken Bail System:
Re-thinking Pre-Trial Detention Practices in the Philippines
By Rochelle Nieva Dugenio Curiba*
“Anyone who has struggled with poverty know[s]
how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”
Philippine jails are another realm where social injustice reigns. Notably, there is a connection that can be established between an accused’s length of stay in detention facilities and his ability to pay; financial status has been correlated to one’s inability to exercise the right to bail, and harsher pre-trial practices can also be linked to poorer socioeconomic conditions.
An indigent may not be able to afford bail and is therefore constructively forced into pre-trial detention until acquittal. On the other hand, a wealthy individual may find that losing any money posted to cash bail is “inconsequential” and thus not an incentive to return to court. What appears to be a reasonable sum of money to a wealthy individual may be unreasonable viewed from the perspective of one of lesser means, assuming that both have been charged with a similar offense.
Presently, only two countries in the world—the United States and the Philippines—have cash bail systems controlled by commercial bail bondsmen, that require a defendant to pay cash to be released during the pendency of their case.
* Managing Editor, Vol. 65, UST Law Review; J.D. (2021), Faculty of Civil Law, University of Santo Tomas; BS Accountancy (2016), Asia Pacific College; and Certified Public Accountant.
Palafox, E., & McLeod, B., Scholarly Commons @ UNLV Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas — William S. Boyd School of Law Research, https://scholars.law.unlv.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article =1013&context=nljforum (last accessed February 7, 2021).
 Sebastian, T., & Karakatsanis, A., Challenging money bail in the courts, American Bar Association, (August 1, 2018), https://www.americanbar.org/groups/judicial/publications/judges_journal /2018/summer/challenging-money-bail-the-courts/.