GCTA Law should be under the judiciary
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

We did not hear of this law called Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law passed in 2013, which Congress approved during the term of then Pres. PNoy Aquino, III. But thanks to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who believes that the Supreme Court should finally resolve the issue of whether nearly 2,000 convicts released under an invalidated interpretation of a law can be herded back to prison. The fact that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) approved the release of the 2,000 prisoners without even a review from the SC is already questionable!

During the Blue Ribbon hearing on this case, both Maria Clara Sarmenta and Iluminda Gomez – mothers of Eileen Sarmenta and Alla Gomez who were killed by then Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez – shed tears when Blue Ribbon chairman Gordon asked them how they felt about Sanchez’s almost getting released from prison – had not the media blown the lid off it.

Meanwhile, President Duterte as well as other lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Christopher Go and Panfilo Lacson want the freed convicts to return to prison as the Department of Justice (DOJ) corrected the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor)’s interpretation and application of the law.

If you ask me, Congress failed to accept that the laws that they created should conform to our justice system, which is under the control and supervision of the Supreme Court and not give this decision to officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR), which is under the Executive Branch of Government. It should be under the Judiciary.

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We read in the news that we wrote about the other day when a Beechcraft King Air 350 on a medical evacuation with aircraft registry number RP-C2296 crashed into a resort in Laguna, killing all its nine passengers. As I mentioned in my article, one can see from the inset photo of the Philippine Star that the wings of the King Air was smoking as it was about to plunge into the resort on a video taken by the resort owner.

Now we read that the patient who was flown on this mercy mission from Dipolog City was Tom and Erma Carr from New Zealand. Even their nurse was a Japanese woman. I’m glad that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) officials was able to recover the King Air’s recorder or black box. Honestly, I did not realize that the King Air featured a flight recorder, as most small airplanes do not carry a recorder. At least now we can find out what happened to the king Air before it crashed.

 I have already flown many times over Laguna and if the pilot only flew high enough, they could have crash-landed in Laguna Lake and perhaps survived. Meanwhile, this incident brings me back to the age-old question that I have always asked Congress to do, come up with a law creating the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which most nations already have created and investigates all air, ships and bus disasters.

One of the best television documentaries I watched on television is the Air Crash Investigation of National Geographic Channel on SkyCable. The documentary gives you the entire story of the beginnings of an air accident and why the accident happened or whether or not it can be prevented. Usually, the NTSB conducts the investigation and gives out the reason for the crash but its recommendation is only recommendatory. But if you ask me, this is not the task of CAAP but of an honest-to-goodness investigative agency, which is the NTSB. Hence the 18th Congress should work hard to create this body so that we can really get to the bottom of the many accidents we are having.

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We also read in the news that Pope Francis got stuck in a Vatican elevator during a brownout, something that we have never read before. Surely an issue like this has happened to many people, and for as long as you do not panic, nothing will ever happen to you. But the Vatican fire fighters helped to rescue him seven minutes later. It was not told whether the Pope was alone in the elevator. So he got late in announcing the 13 new cardinals that he already appointed. No, our Cebu Archdiocese Jose Palma’s name was not mentioned but someday I hope that he would become a cardinal. After all, we in Cebu deserve a cardinal here.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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