Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said 1,665 ex-prisoners surrendered to the police and to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
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Over 1,000 convicts surrender ahead of deadline
Evelyn Macairan, Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Over a thousand former inmates prematurely freed under the good behavior law have surrendered to authorities as of yesterday, ahead of the deadline set by President Duterte.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said 1,665 ex-prisoners surrendered to the police and to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

This means more than 600 former felons from the total of 1,914 remain unaccounted for, Perete said.

Authorities are scrambling to track down the former inmates, most of them convicted murderers, rapists and drug offenders, who were released early due to what was perceived to be a wrong application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law and possible corruption of BuCor officials.

Duterte had set a Sept. 19 deadline for the ex-convicts to return to jail or face the consequences, and put a P1-million price on their heads.

Duterte ordered authorities to capture the former felons “dead or alive,” as he remarked that “maybe dead would be a better option.”

Perete said the Department of Justice (DOJ) would provide the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) the list of former convicts still at large.

“This day (yesterday), we will be transmitting a new list to the DILG which will serve as their guide in implementing the re-arrest of those who did not surrender upon the lapse of 15-day period which will expire at 11:59 tonight,” Perete said.

He said the DOJ is counterchecking the list of similar names and those who might have fled abroad.

Perete said the Bureau of Immigration has given assurance no one among the thousands of former prisoners has left the country.

He added the arrest of the remaining ex-convicts would be left to the discretion of the PNP.

“The conduct of the re-arrest is a purely police matter now because the only guideline that we have is the characterization of this arrest as a warrantless arrest, considering that the individuals to be re-arrested are considered to be evading their sentences,” he added.

The PNP has started preparations for its tracker teams to hunt down the remaining former convicts who failed to meet yesterday’s deadline.

“The PNP shifts to manhunt operations after the deadline,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac declared.

The PNP will deploy its elite Special Action Force (SAF) commandos to assist the 100 tracker teams in the manhunt for the remaining ex-convicts.

At the stroke of midnight, Banac said the remaining ex-convicts would be considered fugitives.

Banac stressed there is no shoot-to-kill order to the police to force the surrender of the remaining convicts.

However, police officers will not hesitate to use force if the convicts resist arrest and put up a fight.?“We believe that through swift and relentless arrests, we can convince and expedite the surrender of more freed convicts,” Banac said.?Ombudsman Samuel Martires explained there is no need for a warrant of arrest to capture the former inmates since they are now considered fugitives from justice.

“If there is a misrepresentation in the release of the prisoner, then it (release) becomes null and void. You have to surrender or else you will become fugitive of justice,” Martires said.

Martires, a former Supreme Court associate justice, said a warrant of arrest from the court is no longer needed for law enforcers to capture the convicts who refuse to surrender, as it is presumed that they were released under anomalous circumstances.

Recommitment

On the other hand, those who had surrendered and recommitted to prison will be subjected to a re-computation of their sentences.

Perete explained the BuCor could only start releasing those who have been verified to have qualified for the reduction of their prison terms based on their GCTA re-computation, or 15 days after the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the GCTA has been published and takes effect.

Since the GCTA’s revised IRR, jointly signed by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año last Sept. 16, was published only last Wednesday, Sept. 18, this would only take effect on Oct. 3, he pointed out.

But even if the BuCor would only be able to start releasing the qualified prisoners under the GCTA law on Oct. 3, Guevarra had ordered BuCor to start the re-evaluation process for those who have voluntarily surrendered. 

Perete added the basis for re-evaluation and re-computation would be the provisions of the new IRR. 

While waiting for the revised IRR to take effect, those who have voluntarily surrendered would have to temporarily stay in the BuCor’s custody until such time it has been verified that they are entitled to the benefits of GCTA – Elizabeth Marcelo, Non Alquitran, Raymund Catindig, Gilbert Bayoran, AFP

BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS GOOD CONDUCT TIME ALLOWANCE SURRENDER
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