The raiders, who carried out the attack on the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan some 580 miles from the capital Manila, have links to an outlawed rebel group which continues to wage an insurgency in the south of the island nation.
During the ensuing two-hour shootout, some 158 inmates used a wooden ladder at the back of the prison to scale the wall and escape, according to the prison warden Peter Bongat.
A prison spokesman said it was the biggest jailbreak in the country’s history..
“We were really unpowered and undermanned,” he added.
The authorities said eight prisoners had since been caught, two had surrendered and six were killed.
Some of the attackers had links with the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the main Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has signed a peace deal with the government.
The jail has more than 1,500 inmates, including BIFF members facing murder charges for a series of bombings in the province.
The leader of a nearby village Alexander Austria said he and his men had captured one of the convicts.
He said the exchanges of gunfire had woken people up and he had immediately posted guards.
He said: “We were afraid the escapees could try to enter our village to hide or take hostages.”
Security forces are continuing to hunt for the inmates that remain at large.