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.”
James Baldwin




      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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]


* 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.

[1]Palafox, E., & McLeod, B., Scholarly Commons @ UNLV Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas — William S. Boyd School of Law Research, =1013&context=nljforum (last accessed February 7, 2021).

[2] Id.

[3] Sebastian, T., & Karakatsanis, A., Challenging money bail in the courts, American Bar Association, (August 1, 2018), /2018/summer/challenging-money-bail-the-courts/.


The UST Law Review is the official legal publication of the Faculty of Civil Law.