LIVE: Senate probe into GCTA law, blocked release of Antonio Sanchez – Day 7
PhilstarLIVE ( - October 1, 2019 - 9:14am

MANILA, Philippines — Senators are set to conduct the seventh joint hearing into the Good Conduct Time Allowance, a mechanism to reward prisoners by subtracting from their sentence for every month of good behavior, on Tuesday morning.

The blue ribbon committee and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, both chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, will lead the investigation along with the Senate committees on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes; Public Order and Dangerous Drugs; and Finance chaired by Sens. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa and Sonny Angara, respectively.

In the hearing last September 19, findings of the National Bureau of Investigation showed that two Bureau of Corrections officials were involved in transactions to credit an inmate with good behavior.

The NBI said that the mobile devices owned by “GCTA for sale” witness Yolanda Camilon, BuCor Officer 3 Veronica "Boday" Buño and BuCor Senior Inspector Maria Belinda "Mabel" Bansil revealed that they communicated with each other via text message on several dates last February.

The senators have been discussing the “GCTA for sale” scheme where officials allegedly change the good conduct credit of inmates to process their early release in exchange for cash.

They also previously tackled the blocked release of former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez who was convicted for the rape and murder of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and her boyfriend Allan Gomez in 1993.

Sanchez was allegedly prioritized by the BuCor.

The previous hearings also covered the release of almost 2,000 heinous crime convicts whom the Department of Justice now says should not have been released because its position is convicts of heinous crimes should not be eligible for GCTA.

Inmates' petition

Eight inmates of the New Bilibid Prison have filed a petition at the Supreme Court questioning the DOJ's interpretation as well as the new Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10592, the 2013 law that expanded the number of days of good conduct allowance a prisoner is rewarded with, released amid the controversy.

The inmates, who were convicted of rape, murder or homicide filed a 32-page petition for certiorari and prohibition asking the SC to invalidate certain provisions of the GCTA that disqualified certain inmates from benefitting from the GCTA, time allowance for study, teaching and mentoring; and immediate release of a person deprived of liberty  under preventive imprisonment.

They asked the high court to order "the [Bureau of Corrections] and the [Bureau of Jail Management and Oenology] to re-compute with reasonable dispatch the time allowances due to the petitioners and all those who are similarly situated and, thereafter, to cause their immediate release from imprisonment in case of full service of sentence, unless they are being confined for some other lawful cause."

They are also against the retroactive application of RA 10592 because it would prejudice the rights of the petitioners and others who are in the same situation.

The Senate panels will also look into alleged "ninja cops", or corrupt police officials who allegedly "recycle" seized drugs for sale on the street.

READ: DOJ welcomes 8 inmates’ action vs revised IRR of GCTA

Watch the hearing LIVE starting 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019.

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