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Murderers wander about with machetes at idyllic Philippines prison

Published on Jun 22, 2014 12:18 PM
In this photo taken on June 6, 2014, inmates from the medium security compound work on a rice field at Iwahig prison in Puerto Princesa, Palawan island. -- PHOTO: AFP

IWAHIG, Philippines (AFP) - One hundred convicts armed with machetes wander through a vast prison without walls in one of the Philippines' most beautiful islands, a unique approach to reforming criminals.

Two token guards with shotguns slung on their shoulders relax in the shade nearby as the blue-shirted group of inmates chop weeds at a rice paddy at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm on Palawan island.

But Arturo, who is 21 years into a life sentence for murder, has no plans to escape, preferring to keep his chances of an eventual commutation or even a pardon.

"I don't want to live the life of a rat, panicked into bolting into a hole each time a policeman comes my way," the 51-year-old inmate, whose full name cannot be used in keeping with prison regulations, told AFP.

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