PNP has no 'cleaned up' list of heinous crimes convicts yet, but re-arrest to continue
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the 1,914 heinous crimes convicts freed over the years of implementation of the law cutting down their prison time due to their good conduct to surrender to authorities.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

PNP has no 'cleaned up' list of heinous crimes convicts yet, but re-arrest to continue

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - September 20, 2019 - 5:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to re-arrest convicts of heinous crime released under a controversial law standing, even without a “cleaned up” list yet that should reflect who should be put back in prison would still continue, according to the Department of Justice. 

In a press conference Friday, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said that despite DOJ’s request to the Department of Interior and Local Government to suspend the re-arrest, only the Office of the President can officially put on hold the re-arrest "because the original order came from the president himself.”

Police officers will enact Duterte’s order to bring back the prisoners released by the Bureau of Corrections to jail even without a written memorandum.

“The directive of the president given by him verbally stands and there is no requirement under the law on what form the directive of the president should be,” Perete, also DOJ’s spokesperson, said.

Early Friday morning, the day when Duterte’s deadline for surrender expired, the Justice department said it requested the Philippine National Police to hold off the re-arrest of released convicts.

DOJ said that they have yet to clean up the previously released BuCor list, which included wrong entries of crimes for convicts, double entries and even prisoners on parole, that should guide law enforcement agencies in conducting the re-arrest.

But Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, in a press conference at the Palace Friday afternoon, said Duterte’s directive remains in effect. “You can already do the warrantless arrest right now but the PNP just have to be very sure, pinpoint accuracy on who they should track down and arrest,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Following this, Perete said: “Based on the latest pronouncement of the Palace, it would seem that the re-arrest would still continue.”

Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, National Capital Region Police Officer Director, told Philstar.com in a text message that they resumed re-arresting 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Generally, courts issue a warrant of arrest against an individual, but the Duterte government, including the DOJ, insisted that the re-arrest of the convicts do not need a warrant since they would be considered as “fugitives” who evaded the completion of their sentence.

Peaceful arrest

With the re-arrest continuing, the police may start operating with the previously released BuCor data that contained several errors.

It was found out that the BuCor list contained names who were released through pardon or on parole. It also listed the convicts’ crime wrongly or had double entries of names.

But Perete said the government is taking steps to ensure that the conduct of arrest would be orderly and peaceful.

He said the DOJ is fast tracking the cleaning up of the list, which would delete names who have already surrendered, names of convicts but not of heinous crimes, and names who were released through pardon or on parole.

“On the other hand PNP and law enforcers have already come up with the statement that they will apply all reasonable means to ensure that their operations will be peaceful and will respect the rights of individuals,” Perete added.

The Justice department is also appealing to those who may be the subject of arrest to coordinate with the authorities.

On Tuesday, Duterte, as his imposed deadline nears, warned convicts who will not surrender. He placed a P1 million bounty for their capture, “dead or alive but maybe dead would be a better option.”

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers President Edre Olalia told Philstar.com that Duterte's directive is "dangerous and may be illegal." Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra came to the president's defense and claimed that the order should not be taken literally.

2009 inmates surrendered

Perete said there are 2,009 previously released inmates who have turned themselves in at the BuCor.

BuCor data, however, only had 1,914 names of released convicts of heinous crimes and should heed Duterte’s surrender order on it.

Fr. Eli Lumbo, executive director of the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service Foundation Inc., told ANC's Early Edition on Thursday that at least 20 of those who surrendered at the BuCor told him that they were not freed through GCTA. Some were released through parole, and at least two were already acquitted, but they still turned themselves in out of fear.

They’d rather be on the safe side, surrender even though they are not under the heinous crime category,” Lumbo also said.

Perete said the DOJ listed at least 41 ex-inmates who were freed without legal obstacles. 

He explained the DOJ is drafting necessary documentation that would legally protect these free convicts from being re-arrested.

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