Inter-agency panel to review rules on inmates' time allowances
Data from the Bureau of Corrections showed that close to 2,000 inmates convicted of a heinous crime have been released due to the GCTA law.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

Inter-agency panel to review rules on inmates' time allowances

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - August 29, 2019 - 4:48pm

GCTA officially suspended until end of review

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:49 p.m.)  — The Departments of Justice and of the Interior and Local Government have created an inter-agency committee for the review of guidelines in processing the good conduct time allowance cases of inmates.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Bureau of Corrections released data showing 1,914 inmates convicted for heinous crimes have been released since the implementation of Republic Act 10592.

RA 10592 expanded the time allowances granted to inmates as a reward for good conduct.

In a joint department order issued Thursday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año ordered the creation of a committee to review the guidelines for GCTA as provided under Republic Act 10592.

READ: ‘Good conduct’ processing may be suspended

An undersecretary from the DOJ will head the committee, with a co-chair from the DILG with the same rank.

The committee’s members are:

  • Bureau of Corrections director general
  • DOJ assistant secretary
  • DILG assistant secretary
  • Bureau of Jail Management and Penology director
  • Board of Pardons and Parole, executive director
  • Parole and Probation Administration representative
  • DOJ Planning and Management Service representative

BJMP, which is attached to the DILG, has custody primarily over detainees who are undergoing investigation or are awaiting final judgment, as well as those serving sentences of three years and shorter.

BuCor, which is attached to the DOJ, has custody over those already convicted and sentenced to serve terms longer than three years and a day.

Backlash over Sanchez case

The creation of the committee came after strong public backlash over the possible release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez due to the retroactive application of the GCTA.

The issue has spurred calls for hearings at both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

In a Facebook post on Thrusday, Rep. Jericho Nograles (PBA party-list) said he has written Faeldon for the names of the inmates who have been freed under the GCTA.

Guevarra said over the weekend that the DOJ is "considering seriously the need to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs." The suspension would stay until the guidelines are "reviewed and firmed up," Guevarra added.

The inter-agency committee is tasked with filing a report and drafting revised implementing rules and regulations, and a uniform policy and guidelines on the computation of credits and allowances under RA No. 10592 to Guevarra and Año within ten days.

The memorandum states that pending the conclusion of the joint committee’s work, "the processing and computation of the credits and allowances provided under RA 10692 are hereby temporarily suspended."

EXPLAINER: Good law, bad man: RA 10592 and rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez

BOC: 1,914 convicts of heinous crime released

One of the legal issues surrounding the GCTA is whether a convict found guilty of committing a heinous crime—like Sanchez—should be allowed to apply for GCTA.

Guevarra has been firm on this, and stressed that the provisions of RA 10592 provide that "recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes" are ineligible for GCTA.

President Rodrigo Duterte agrees with this position, with Sen. Bong Go saying Duterte has decided that Sanchez will not be released through GCTA.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who is also the presidential chief legal counsel, backed Guevarra’s interpretation that a person convicted of a heinous crime is ineligible for GCTA.

READ: Palace backs DOJ: Sanchez ineligible for 'good conduct' release

However, according to BuCor’s data, more than 1,914 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes have been released since the law was implemented in 2013.

Among the crimes the prisoners had been convicted of were parricide, murder, kidnapping with illegal detention, robbery with violence or intimidation, destructive arson, rape and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Asked on how the prior release of the 1,914 prisoners happened, Guevarra told reporters: "We have to study and discuss that issue very carefully and thoroughly."

READ: Corrections chief: Ex-mayor Sanchez might not be released yet

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