In Cebu: 3 freed convicts yield to police
Gregg M. Rubio, Iris Hazel M. Mascardo (The Freeman) - September 7, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Two more convicts released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law have surrendered to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Cebu City two days after one other convict surrendered on September 4 in the northern city of Bogo.

In a public statement, President Rodrigo Duterte called on those released under GCTA to surrender within 15 days otherwise they will be considered as fugitives.

Conrado Cortes, 64, from Barangay Mabolo, Cebu City was convicted for robbery and homicide. He was in prison for 28 years and was released on June 8, 2019. Cortes surrendered last Thursday night.

“Mi-surrender ko aron dili ko ma-wanted kay gusto ko inig gawas nako, maayo ko (I surrendered so that I will not be labeled a wanted criminal. I want to leave prison eventually with a clean record),” Cortes said in between tears.

Another reason why he surrendered, he said, is that he does not want to be accused of having paid to be granted the GCTA.

“Nasakitan lang ko anang na naay niingon nga nagbayad mi sa GCTA. Mao nang ni-surrender ko aron maklaro akong paglaya kay dili ko gusto nga maapil ko anang magbayad sa mga tao aron makalaya ko (I was hurt when I heard that we allegedly paid to get GCTA. This is why I surrendered – to make it clear that I did not pay anything),” he said.

He shared that he taught refrigeration and air-conditioning work inside the jail from 2001 to 2019 for which he was paid P250 per day.

Meanwhile, Danilo dela Victoria, 50, from Barangay Lahug was convicted for parricide for killing his father when he was 17 years old. He was imprisoned for 30 years and was released on December 14 last year. He turned himself in early morning on Friday.

“Sa katulad naming mahihirap na nakapag-serve na ng 30 years, merong pa ring GCTA pero konti lang (For poor people like us who have served 30 years in jail, we were granted the GCTA but only in a limited sense),” he said.

Police Lt. Colonel Hector Amancia of CIDG said the surrenderees will undergo the same process as any other person convicted for a crime. They will be detained at CIDG until an order is given for them to be transferred.

GCTAs are provided for by Republic Act 10592, a 2013 law that amends a number of provisions of the Revised Penal Code on time allowances and credit for preventive imprisonment of inmates.

Reports of the possible release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez who was convicted for rape and murder caused public outrage and drew attention to Republic Act 10592, the law that increased the GCTA granted to inmates.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has since suspended the processing of the early release of inmates under the GCTA Law.

A few days ago, President Rodrigo Duterte gave released convicts 15 days to turn themselves in.   Dela Victoria said that while he agrees with Duterte’s decision, he claimed that wealthy convicts received more GCTA than someone like him who does not have money.

Two days before Cortes and Dela Victoria surrendered to CIDG, murder convict Jesus Ranoco Negro Jr., 50, surrendered in Bogo City in northern Cebu.

Negro turned emotional as he shared with the media how hard the life of an inmate is. He was imprisoned for 30 years for eight counts of murder and frustrated murder and was released on August 9, 2018.

Negro surrendered to Bogo City Police Station and was turned over to the Abellana Police Station in Cebu City under the supervision of the Police Regional Office - 7.

Negro enrolled for TESDA, and although he didn’t finished it, he continued his craft in painting back in Sibonga while helping his cousin cleaning in the pigpen. He claimed to be a former member of Philippine Constabulary, and enrolled in the Alternative Learning System in Sibonga town after his release.

He narrated that he was in his adjustment stage when he happened to watch the President’s order on the Television, saying convicts under GCTA have to surrender themselves.

“Sumuko na kayo, lalo na ikaw (You surrender now, especially you),” he said, quoting Duterte.

Chiong Case

In a related development, the lawyer of Josman Aznar, one of the seven convicted in the controversial kidnapping, rape, and killing of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in Cebu in 1997, said they are just waiting for the warrant of arrest from the court.

Aznar is among the three released under GCTA together with Alberto Caño and Ariel Balansag.

“Ang husgado ra man ang dunay kagahum sa pagpadakop sa usa ka tawo sigun sa atong batakang balaud o mga balaudnon (Under the law, only the court can order a person’s arrest),” Atty. Edgar Gica told The Freeman.

He was reacting to a report that Duterte has ordered heinous crimes convicts who got freed during the implementation of GCTA to surrender and register themselves in the Bureau of Corrections in 15 days or they will be treated fugitives.

“Sulti lang na sa Presidente. Kanang naa sa mga mantalaan, dili na sigun sa gilagda sa balaud (What came out in the reports is what the President said and not necessarily what the law mandates),” Gica said.

Gica said he has not spoken to Aznar personally but only to the latter’s family. —  JMO (FREEMAN)

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