SC orders government: Answer inmatesâ petition vs GCTA law guidelines
Strong outrage due to reports of possible early release of murderer-rapist Antonio Sanchez prompted a review of the Implementing Rules and Regulation of the 2013 law.
The STAR/Mong Pintolo, File photo
SC orders government: Answer inmates’ petition vs GCTA law guidelines
Kristine Joy Patag ( - October 3, 2019 - 3:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has ordered the Department of Justice to answer the inmates’ legal challenge to the new guidelines on the controversial Good Conduct and Time Allowance law.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin confirmed that the high court gave the government, to be represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, to comment on the plea filed by eight inmates of the New Bilibid Prison.

The chief justice gave a chance interview at the sidelines of the National Summit on Dangerous Drugs Law at the Manila Hotel, Thursday.

Bersamin said they have yet to determine if they will hold oral arguments on the case. He explained that the court sets oral arguments on the case after they evaluate the initial comments and materials submitted to the SC.

The petition

On September 16, the DOJ and DILG released the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations on Republic Act 10592, which expanded time allowances for good conduct of inmates as provided by the Revised Penal Code.

Under the revised guidelines, inmates who are recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapists and those charged with heinous crimes are ineligible from the 2013 law.

Eight convicts of heinous crimes ran to the SC to question the constitutionality of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10592.

In a petition for certiorari, they argued that the IRR issued by the government was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.

They raised that the exclusions provided by the revised IRR “cannot be applied retroactively due to prohibition against ex post facto law.”

An ex post facto law is that would penalize a crime that was committed when the act was not deemed illegal yet. The Bill of Rights states: “No ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted.”

EXPLAINER: Panelo wants freed 'heinous crimes' convicts back in prison, but time allowances are 'irrevocable'

Named as respondents are Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology chief Allan Sullano Iral.

The inmates asked the SC to declare as invalid parts of the 2019 Revised IRR “for going beyond the law and being tantamount to executive legislation.”

The petitioners also raised that excluding the disqualified inmates from GCTA violates their right to equal protection of the law.

They asked the SC to order the BuCor and BJMP to “re-compute with reasonable dispatch the time allowances due to petitioners and all those who are similarly situated and, thereafter, to cause their immediate release from imprisonment in case of full service of sentence.”

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