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DOJ stops manhunt vs released life termers as number of surrenderers exceeds BuCor’s list

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Justice Undersecretary and spokesman Mark Perete announced over radio stations on Friday (September 20) that the manhunt against all heinous crime convicts who were granted early release has been put on hold pending a review of the list of freed prisoners submitted by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Perete, in separate interviews with DZMM and DZBB, alerted the police and other government authorities that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided to suspend operations to re-arrest the released life termers who failed to answer the call of President Duterte for them to surrender on or before September 19.

The reason for this is the apparent mistakes made on the list of heinous crime convicts that were released by the BuCor due to the liberal application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

Perete said records they have gathered from concerned state agencies showed that the number of PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) who surrendered to authorities as of Thursday midnight already reached 1,950. This is already above the 1,914 life termers who were listed by the BuCor.

“Tinanong namin sa Bureau of Corrections at that point na paano nangyari na mas marami yung actual surrenderers than those included in the list,” he said in the DZBB interview. “So ngayon because of that we requested our PNP (Philippine National Police) to hold yung kanilang rearrest kasi kailangan na naming linisin ngayon yung original na list ng Bureau of Corrections.”

Authorities have shown eagerness to implement the order of Duterte to re-arrest the freed life termers who would fail to meet his September 19 deadline to surrender. The President also offered a P1-million bounty.

The National Capital Region Police Office, for instance, announced that it would be deploying its tracker teams for the manhunt operation.

Aside from suspending the manhunt, Perete said the DOJ also wants the authorities to release all those who surrendered but were not on the BuCor list.

He told DZMM there are already at least 40 surrendered PDLs that should be released immediately. These are those who were already granted pardon or parole.

Surrenderers near 700 as De Lima refuses to answer Ombudsman query on GCTA IRR

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As of 8 a.m. on Tuesday (September 17), at least 692 convicts that were granted early release purportedly for good behavior have surrendered to authorities, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

These convicts, according to Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete, are among the 1,914 life termers that were freed due to the “erroneous” application of the good conduct time allowance of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

They heeded the call of President Duterte to surrender on or before September 19 or risk becoming the subjects of manhunt operations with accompanying bounty.

Perete said these convicts will have to serve out the remainder of their sentence, especially under the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 10592 that was signed by the Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano on Monday.

The new IRR clearly stated that escapees, habitual delinquents, recidivists and heinous crime convicts are excluded from the application of the GCTA benefits.

Around 22,000 prisoners have been granted early release since 2014 when RA 10592 was implemented.

However, based on the Senate inquiry into the GCTA application, some of these convicts did not deserve to be freed, as some benefited from what is now called “GCTA for sale”. This illegal scheme was uncovered in one of the Senate hearings, after a witness said Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials demanded P50,000 from her in exchange for the early release of her husband.

Around 30 BuCor officials were already ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman due to alleged involvement in this scheme.

Analysts say the ambiguity of the law and its IRR allowed the liberal application of the GCTA. This prompted the revision of the IRR so rules can be clarified while Congress is working on a revised version of the law.

Senator Leila De Lima, the DOJ secretary when RA 10592’s original IRR was crafted, has been asked by the Ombudsman to comment why they did not clearly exclude heinous crime convicts in the GCTA application.

She answered:  “[I] would like to clarify that I am no longer the Secretary of Justice. I am now a Senator of the Republic. I cannot in my official capacity as a Senator reply to a query that exclusively pertains to official business of the Department of Justice whose present Secretary is Menardo Guevarra.” 

De Lima, added in her three-page letter to the Office of the Ombudsman: “Whatever query you may have regarding the IRR, therefore, may be properly and officially answered by the DOJ and the DILG, being the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of said IRR.”

“It is not clear in your letter whether you are requiring me to do so in my personal capacity or in my capacity as Senator. Either way, I find no relevance in either capacities or as former Secretary of Justice to be able to officially annotate on the language of the IRR beyond what it provides in its provisions.”

House justice committee to conduct own GCTA probe, eyes revision of RA 10592

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The House Committee on Justice is likely to conduct its own hearing on the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592, with the revision of the law to “avoid absurdity and confusion” as the end in view.

Assistant Majority Leader Fidel Nograles, who is also the vice chair of the justice committee, said they will focus on reviewing Article 29 and Article 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by RA 10592, noting that these two need to be reconciled.

“In Article 29, which speaks of credit for preventive imprisonment, has certain exclusions which are not found in Article 97…The conflicting part, these exclusions are not found in Art. 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the GCTA, because all that we can find in Art. 97 is that persons who are entitled to credits for preventive imprisonment and persons convicted by final judgement and detained in penal institutions,” Nograles said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 13).

“You have to reconcile because you have to harmonize the two provisions , such as to give effect to all of the provisions of the law so there has to be specific exclusions, specifically in Art. 29, you need to adopt these exclusions on Art. 97 as well in order to avoid confusion.”

Article 29 excludes habitual delinquents, escapees, persons charged with heinous crimes and recidivists from the GCTA scheme.

Nograles also said they are looking at giving a clearer definition of what “heinous crimes” are.  Right now, heinous crimes, as defined by the death penalty law, are those that are ”grievous, odious, hateful offenses of such monstrosity as to spark public outrage”.

The Senate justice and blue ribbon committees are now conducting hearings on the GCTA, with illegal practices such as the “GCTA for Sale” and “Hospital Pass for Sale” already uncovered. 

Former and current officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), as well as several experts, had said the ambiguities in RA 10592, and even its implementing rules and regulations (IRR), led to liberal application of the GCTA that resulted in the early release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts since 2014. The controversy became the talk of the town after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced last August 20 that even convicted killer-rapist Antonio Sanchez was set for early release because of the GCTA scheme.

More than a hundred life termers who were released due to RA 10592 have already surrendered after they were given by President Duterte 15 days to present themselves to authorities. 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that a revised IRR is due for release next week. This is the product of the joint review conducted by the DOJ and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). “The Joint Review Committee has completed its work and submitted the draft IRR to the Secretaries of Justice and of the Interior and Local Government,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete told reporters. “Both will now review the draft IRR and decide on its promulgation.”

Another modus at NBP uncovered: Inmates get to leave prison compound by faking illness

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The good conduct time allowance (GCTA) controversy just keeps springing horror after horror at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). 

After a modus operandi that allowed prisoners to stay in the NBP hospital in exchange for cash was uncovered, a far worse scheme was brought to light on Wednesday (September 11) wherein “sick” inmates were actually cleared to leave the prison compound and be confined in a private medical institution.

This was revealed by a doctor at the NBP to the news team of GMA Network’s “24 Oras”.

In the news program’s report on Wednesday night, a doctor at the NBP said members of NBP’s medical staff have been getting numerous death threats to force them to approve certifications allowing certain “sick” prisoners to get treatment outside the prison walls. These prisoners pretend to have illnesses that cannot be treated by NBP doctors.

“‘Yung mga doctor pindadalhan ng bulaklak ng patay sa bahay. Pati yata tatlong nurses pinaldahan din,” the witness said in the “24 Oras” report. Because of this, members of the medical staff have no choice but to approve the requests for transfer of certain inmates to a private hospital. There were doctors who just opted to resign.

The doctor who made this revelation is expected to detail this modus during the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the GCTA mess on Thursday.

Initially, senators uncovered the so-called “GCTA for sale” scheme, wherein prison officials allowed the early release of heinous crime convicts in exchange for cash. They used the GCTA provisions of Republic Act 10592 as basis for the release.

After that, Senator Bong Go disclosed that some prisoners who fake illnesses were being transferred to the NBP hospital, where they would conduct transactions involving illegal drugs. This was since dubbed as “hospital pass for sale”.

The cost of this hospital pass, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson, ranges from P200,000 to P2 million. “And meron pa itong board and lodging amounting to 30,000 per day. Eh, wala namang mangyayaring ganoon kung walang magce-certify na doktor.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said four new witnesses are expected to reveal fresh information to the committees on justice and blue ribbon.

Ombudsman recommends suspension, filing of charges vs 27 BuCor officials over GCTA mess

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The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) the suspension of 27 officials and personnel of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) over the “anomalous release” of heinous crime convicts using the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

Among those recommended for suspension for six months without pay were Ramoncito Roque, BuCor Documents and Record Section chief, and Corrections Senior Insp Ma. Belinda Bansil, who were identified by witnesses as behind the so-called “GCTA for sale” scheme during the Senate hearing on the controversy.

Also listed by Ombudsman Samuel Martires for suspension were:

  1. Benjamin Barrios, Supervisor, Board of Discipline, Maximum Security Camp
  2. Gerardo Padilla, Chief, NBP Superintendent
  3. Francisco Abunales, NBP, Superintendent
  4. Celso Bravo, Officer-in-Charge, Directorate for Security and Operations
  5. Melencio Faustino, Regional Superintendent, Davao Prison and Penal Farm
  6. Cherry Caliston, Chief, Documents Division, Davao Prison and Penal Farm
  7. Ruelito Pulmano, Inmate Documents and Processing Section
  8. Emerita Aguilar, Chief, Reformation and Rehabilitation Office
  9. Raymund Peneyra, Chief Overseer, Maximum Security Compound
  10. 10.Jomar Coria, NBP South Reformation Coordinator for Education and Training, Maximum Security Compound
  11. Roy Vivo, COG, Maximum Security Compound
  12. 12.Wilfredo Bayona, Deputy Superintendent, NBP South Maximum Security Compound
  13. 13.John Edward Basi, Assistant Chief, Reformation and Rehabilitation Office, Maximum Security Compound, NBP
  14. 14.Abel Dr. Ciruela, Commander of the Guard -Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee, Maximum Security Compound
  15. 15.Roger Boncales, Directorate for Security and Operations -NBP North
  16. 16.Eduardo Cabuhat, OIC Training and Education Office
  17. 17.Dr. Lourdes Razon, Medical and Dental Office
  18. 18.Mary Lou Arbatin, Chief, Behavior Mod. Office
  19. 19.Susana Ortega, OIC, Prison Industry Office, Maximum Security Compound
  20. 20.Anthony Omega, OIC, Sports and Recreation Office, Maximum Security Compound
  21. 21.Antonio Calumpit, OIC, Overseer, Maximum Security Compound
  22. 22.Roberto Rabo, Superintendent, NBP
  23. 23.Jones Lanuza, Deputy Superintendent for Reformation, NBP
  24. 24.Victor de Monteverde, Chief, Alternative Learning System, Maximum Security Compound  and
  25. 25.Veronica Buño, Custodial Officer, NBP

Martires asked the DOJ to effect their suspension within five days. They will also be charged with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

“The office finds that the evidence in the form of testimonies of witnesses and public documents showing the anomalous release of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes appear to be strong,” Martires said in his six-page decision issued on Monday (September 9).

BuCor officials in alleged ‘GCTA for sale’ scheme agree to lifestyle checks

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Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials, who were reported to have demanded money in exchange for the early release of heinous crime convicts, accepted the challenge of senators that they be subjected to lifestyle checks at the resumption of the Senate probe into the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law on  Monday (September 9).

Those who agreed to voluntarily submit themselves to lifestyle checks were BuCor Legal Division chief Fredric Anthony Santos; Staff Sergeant Ramoncito Roque, head of BuCor’s documents division; Correctional Senior Ins. Maria Belinda Bansil and Corrections Officer 3 Veronica Buño.

They will submit their statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs) in the last six years, as raised by Senator Risa Hontiveros during the Senate hearing on the GCTA mess.

In the previous hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees last week, witness Yolanda Camilon revealed that some BuCor officials demanded P50,000 from her in exchange for the early release of her husband through the GCTA provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592.

He identified Roque, Bansil and Buño as some of the BuCor officers who demanded money from her, in what is now called as the “GCTA for sale” scheme. Camilon was forced to come out and disclose the scheme after her husband was not released.

Roque, Bansil and Buño had already denied Camilon’s accusation.

In an earlier hearing of the Senate, former BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon and Regional Superintendent Melencio Faustino also told senators that they are willing to be subjected to lifestyle checks.

At the resumption of the hearing on Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said another witness will corroborate Camilon’s revelations on the alleged GCTA for sale scheme. A third witness is still not sure if he/she will come out. 

The application of the GCTA provisions of RA 10592, which was enacted in 2013, has been in the national spotlight since Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra disclosed last August 20 that convicted killer-rapist Antonion L. Sanchez and several other convicts of heinous crimes could be released soon due to their reduced prison terms for good behavior under the law.

Since 2014, more than 22,000 convicts had been freed under the law, around 2,000 of them life termers.

President Duterte himself stopped the early release of Sanchez, stressing that the law does not cover those who were convicted of heinous crimes. He also gave those who have been released 15 days to surrender to authorities. As of Sunday, more than a hundred of these convicts have already surrendered, although some were reported to have fled to other countries. The Philippine National Police said it will now seek the help of the Interpol to effect the arrest of these convicts. 

Drilon defends GCTA law, calls for suspension of BuCor officials in early release of life termers

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Senator Franklin Drilon said all officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) that were accused of having a hand in the early release of heinous crime convicts should be immediately relieved to prevent them from tampering with the evidence.

“At the very list, they should be suspended immediately. That is the purpose of preventive suspension,” Drilon said in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 6). 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in an interview with radio station DZMM also on Friday, said his next action after appointing the officer in charge (OIC) of the BuCor is the suspension of these prison officials and personnel who demanded money in exchange for the early release of life termers.

“The first thing I will discuss with the new OIC is the immediate suspension of those allegedly involved in the GCTA for sale and temporarily lock up the GCTA processing,” he said.

Drilon said the revelations on the third day of the Senate hearing on the implementation of the good conduct time allowance provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10592 proved that indeed prison officials were making money out of the early release of convicts, even those facing life imprisonment for heinous crimes.

A witness said BuCor personnel demanded P50,000 from her if she wanted her husband released through the GCTA provisions.

“We have always speculated that the application of GCTA was tainted with corruption…it (testimony of witness) confirms all suspicions that money changed hands,” Drilon added.

Still, Drilon said the lawmakers do not need to repeal or amend RA 10592 “because the law itself is clear. If properly implemented, the law would have excluded those guilty of heinous crimes.”

He noted that Section 3 of the law did not include those charged with heinous crimes. “If those who are charged are excluded from the law, how much more those who are already convicted. It is so absurd to say life termers are included in the law simply because it is not clear.”

He stressed that it is the procedure and the implementation which were maliciously screwed up.

This, he said, should have not been the case since Department Order 953 issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2015 even made it clear that life termers should only be released upon prior approval by the DOJ secretary. 

In the release of close to 2,000 heinous crime convicts since 2014, Drilon said there was no authority from the DOJ secretary.

PACC says GCTA law’s ambiguity not an excuse for prison officials, to exclude Dela Rosa in probe

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President Duterte’s own probing body—the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC)—will not go easy on its investigation into possible administrative and criminal culpabilities of former and current prison officials who had a hand in the early release of heinous crime convicts due to erroneous implementation of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) benefits under Republic Act (RA) 10592.

But the PACC said former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa will not be called by the agency in respect of the Senate, which dela Rosa is now representing.

PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna said the law’s ambiguity or following ongoing practice—now the reasons being used by former and current BuCor officials in approving the release of heinous crime convicts—will not exculpate anyone in their probe.

“They thought that was right because that was the practice. But ignorance of the law excuses no one,” Luna was quoted in a report of ABS-CBA News.

He said the PACC’s target is to submit its findings and the accompanying recommendations to Duterte in less than 60 days. “The circumstances dictate we have to submit our recommendations to President as soon as possible.”

The PACC, under Executive Order (EO) 73 signed by Duterte in December 2018, has the authority to probe government officials and after due investigation recommend the filing of criminal charges before the Office of the Ombudsman or Department of Justice (DOJ).

PACC chief Dante Jimenez, in an interview with the Manila Times, said they are conducting the probe on GCTA “to make those officials at BuCor answerable from 2014-2019 since the start of the releases of convicts on heinous crimes.” 

The Senate is also investigating the early release of prisoners under the GCTA law, but Jimenez said the “Senate hearing is in aid of Legislation only.”

Data showed around 2,000 convicts of heinous crimes have been released under the GCTA provisions since RA 10592 was enacted in 2013, including three of the seven BuCor prisoners who were convicted in the rape-slay of the Chiong sisters. Former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez , a convicted killer-rapist sentenced to seven life imprisonment, was almost released, but the public outcry forced the DOJ and the BuCor not to cancel it. 

Luna said current BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon will be placed under the PACC. It will also investigate former BuCor officials, except dela Rosa, because he is now representing the Senate, a co-equal branch of the Executive.

But dela Rosa, Luna said, can also volunteer to be included in the PACC probe.

Luna, however, advises dela Rosa against it, noting “he represents the Senate, and therefore he has to think of the institutional independence of the Senate.” 


in Opinion

Manila – Most controversial spokesperson of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte dragged in the Senate Inquiry on misinterpreted GCTA LawPanelo was appointed as Presidential Spokesperson on October 15, 2018, replacing Harry Roque.

Sec. Salvador “Salsalito” San Buenaventura, served as the defense lawyer of prominent politicians such as Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. who was implicated in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre, Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez who was tried for the 1993 Eillen Sarmienta and Allan Gomez murder and the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos in relation to recovering their ill-gotten wealth.

Panelo also lawyered for former Commission on Election Chairman Benjamin Abalos who was embroiled in the 2007 elections scandal, Philip Medel who was convicted in the murder of actress Nida Blanca and the family of slain racing champion Enzo Pastor. His other clients include celebrities such as Deniece Cornejo in her 2014 rape case against actor Vhong Navarro, and Dennis Roldan who was convicted of kidnapping a Filipino-Chinese boy in 2005.personalities.

His intentions to help his client former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, Antonio Sanchez to enjoy the provisions of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, unfolded. Immediately afterward, he and President Duterte retracted their support for the execution of the GCTA, which has already freed most of their friends. He is also known to not answer any questions given to him by the media, but rather go around the bush (or forest) and answer any non-relevant responses under the sun instead.

Panelo, also known as the master of masquerading scenarios, wherein some media friends, used to speculate to what the Secretary trying to imply.

Updated: Secretary Panelo reacted on the articles published by Rappler and Inquirer.net related on his letter to the Board of Pardon and Parole on the executive clemency application of rapist and murderer (his former client) Antonio Sanchez.

Image Credit: PCOO

“Those articles are reeking not only with irresponsibility but with malice and it is libelous in nature because it imputes an act to discredit me in public and to tarnish my honor,” Panelo said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang on Tuesday.

“In view of this, I am filing a libel case against Net Inquirer and Rappler for publishing these malicious articles,” he added.

The complaints are already being drafted by his office, he said.

Panelo was referring to the Inquirer.net tweet that said he wrote a letter “recommending” executive clemency for rape-slay convict Sanchez.

Rappler published an article entitled, “LOOK: Panelo endorsed Sanchez’s letter for executive clemency.” 

Secretary Panelo took exception to the use of the words “recommending” and “endorsed.” He demanded a correction from the inquirer.net. but he receive no response yet.

He also mentioned a Rappler article which quoted him as saying he met with members of the Sanchez family  in his Malacañang office.

Most recently: Panelo is criticizing Sen.Bong Go…”pumapapel” over the issue tackled in the Senate Inquiry.

(Bro.Fred/FM 🇵🇭)

Duterte had nothing to do with early release of heinous crime convicts — Panelo

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As the Senate continues its probe on the early release of convicts for good behavior under Republic Act (RA) 10592, Malacanang on Tuesday (September 3) made it clear that President Duterte did not have any hand in the orders of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to free prisoners serving life imprisonment for heinous crimes.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said it is very clear that the “ambiguous” RA 10592 and its “flawed” implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were crafted and enacted during the previous administration. 

Aside from this, Panelo stressed that the review of prisoners’ good conduct time allowance (GCTA) and release are functions of the BuCor and do not reach the halls of Malacanang under the law.

“The actual computation of GCTA does not pass through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and therefore will not even reach the Office of the President before its benefits can be granted to qualified inmates. We stress that the granting of GCTA is not a form of executive clemency, the awarding of which belongs to the Office of the President. The buck, in this case, stops with the Bureau of Corrections,” he said.

Still, Panelo said the President has directed the DOJ to review the law’s implementation to make sure the early release of heinous crime convicts will no longer continue.

“The President will not tolerate any form of injustice being committed under his watch and it is for this reason that he will ensure that the practice initiated by the past administration on the granting of GCTA will no longer continue,” he said.

Duterte also directed the DOJ to determine if the freed convicts can still be brought back to prison. He also wants the Congress to start the process of amending the law.

The Senate is now on the second day of its probe of the GCTA law. On Monday, BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon admitted that he did sign the release order of convicted killer-rapist Antonio L. Sanchez. He also said Josman Aznar, Ariel Balansag and Alberto Caño, three of the seven rapists and killers of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, had been freed due to the GCTA law.

Meanwhile, Cayagan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, one of the authors of RA 10592, said Faeldon should be charged for the early release of heinous crime convicts.

“He did not harmonize the law. He did not see that this exclusion is to the entire act so therefore there should have been no release and absolutely no release of those involved in heinous crimes,” Rodriguez said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart, referring to the provisions of RA 10592 that disqualify heinous crime convicts from the GCTA benefits.

Faeldon, according to Rodriguez, is liable under Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10592, which states that any public officer or employee who violates the provisions of the act could face one year imprisonment, a fine of P100,000 and perpetual disqualification to hold office.

Faeldon blames implementing rules of GCTA law in early release of heinous crime convicts

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With senators quizzing him on the early release of heinous crime convicts, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon on Monday (September 2) passed the blame on the implementing rules of Republic Act (RA) 10592 that he said they only followed in reviewing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) of prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison.

Faeldon stressed before members of the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice committees that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) RA 10592 issued in 2014 did not disqualify those convicted of heinous crimes.

Image Credit: Philippine News Agency

Faeldon was forced to attend the Senate hearing after he was subpoenaed by the lawmakers to answer queries regarding the implementation of the GCTA provisions, which already led to the early release of more than 20,000 prisoners, with close to 2,000 of them convicted of heinous crimes.

The controversial law and the BuCor have been on the spotlight for two weeks now after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced last August 20 that around 11,000 inmates and prisoners are due for release in the next two months due to the retroactive implementation of the GCTA, including convicted killer-rapist Antonio L. Sanchez.

This immediately drew the ire of the public, until President Duterte himself said Sanchez is not qualified to avail of the GCTA benefits because RA 10592 does not cover those convicted of heinous crimes.

The decision of Duterte, who served as a prosecutor before he became mayor of Davao City, was later affirmed by the Department of Justice. 

Reports, however, surfaced that Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life imprisonment in 1995 for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines – Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993, was indeed about to be freed, with his release order purportedly signed by Faeldon. 

The BuCor chief told the senators that the IRR of RA 10592 mandated them to apply the GCTA provisions to all prisoners.

“All convicted of any crime when they behave well in jail, they were granted GCTA. You will notice that not a single PDL (persons deprived of liberty) has not been denied in whole of GCTA,” Faeldon noted.

Image Credit: Philippine News Agency

The only time a prisoner cannot avail himself of the GCTA benefits, Faeldon added, is on the month he violated prison rules. In the succeeding months, however, when the prisoner behaves, “the granting of GCTA resumes regardless of the gravity of these offenses.”

He added: “Even grave offenses like drugs confiscated inside their cells, they are only penalized for one month. This has been their application [of the law] since 2014 up to this day.”

Guevarra echoed Faeldon’s view, noting that the wordings of the GCTA provisions probably created a confusion in the implementation.

But he said the DOJ is now of the opinion that those convicted of heinous crimes are indeed disqualified from the GCTA benefits.


in Opinion

Manila – GCTA  Suspended, Senate step – in to clarify.

Malacañang Palace will go after to some officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) who are responsible for the release of 22 high profile convicted for drug trafficking, kidnapping with ransom, Murder, Rape with murder, carnapping and parricide (including those Chinese, convicted for drug trafficking, fowarded to Immigration for deportation) due to misinterpretation of R.A. 10592 Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law.

The information published due to uproar of the public after the announcement that convicted for 7 counts for murder and rape, former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez is possible to be released.

In my personal opinion:

I honestly believe that R.A. 10592 passed by the 15th Congress and signed into law by former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino on May 29, 2013, with a clean conscience and clear mind that objectively, those who will be granted earlier release are only those who are qualified in accordance with the provisions of the said law.

The case of Antonio Sanchez and those who were granted liberty due to GCTA, which is now the subject of Senate Inquiry, scheduled tommorow, wherein the subpoena has been sent to BUCOR Chief Faeldon.

The said Senate Inquiry will enlighten the public, what is/are the provision/s of that law, which seems confussing and disadvantageous to the best interest of Filipino majority. And to what point some Bucor officials has made it more conflicated and/or incomprehensible.

Ironically, the implementation of the GCTA law has been temporarily suspended, a bad news to those PDL (persons deprived of liberty) convicted of minor offense, who are incarcerated to provincial, city and municipal jails, their expectations to be reunited with their loved one are impossible to happen before Christmas Season, having said so, congested jail will be come more problematic.


Anti-crime groups demand transparency in GCTA implementation to prevent abuse

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Anti-crime groups are seeking transparency in the early release of prisoners for good behavior, as they expressed dismay and shock that close to 2,000 heinous crime convicts had been freed already since 2013 when the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law was enacted.

Teresita Ang See, founding chairman of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order, said in an interview with GMA7 that victims of kidnap for ransom syndicates, in particular, now fear for their safety anew.

“Panic ngayon ang mga kidnap for ransom victims. Panic sila. Nagtatanungan sila baka naman kasama dun sa 2,000 na napakawalan na e mga kidnapper nila,” Ang See said. ”Eh, they’re out there in the streets. Ang laking threat sa kanila na naman.”

Republic Act (RA) 10592, now popularly known as the GCTA law, allows deductions in the prison term of convicts and those still facing trial upon evaluation of their good behavior and services rendered while in prison.

Since 2013 when it was enacted, more than 22,000 inmates had been released due to the implementation of the GCTA provisions, with 1,914 of them convicted of heinous crimes.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) data said 797 of these released prisoners were convicted of murder; 758, rape; 274, robbery with violence or intimidation; 48, drug-related offenses; 29, parricide; five, kidnapping with illegal detention; and three, destructive arson. 

Arsenio Evangelista, president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said the GCTA could embolden those who are planning to commit crimes.

“Ang masakit dito, ‘yung mindset nu’ng mga would-be criminals and criminals. Oh sige, gawin na natin itong mga major crimes. Anyway, mayroon naman isang batas na prone to corruption and abuse,” Evangelista said. “We earn credits then  soon, mare-release tayo.”

See and Evangelista believes that to prevent abuse of RA 10592, particularly jail officials getting paid in exchange for GCTA credits, there should be transparency in its implementation every step of the way.

“We are demanding, asking DOJ (Department of Justice), BuCor to make it transparent,” Evangelista was quoted in a report of GMA7.

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