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SC rules in favor of retroactive application of prisoners’ credits

/ 05:22 PM July 01, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court ruled that the number of days credited to prisoners for good conduct; study, teaching, and mentoring services; and loyalty should be retroactive in its application under the law that became effective on Oct. 10, 2013.

In a ruling made public Monday, the high court said nullified Section 4, Rule 1 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10592 — the law that amended several provisions of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).

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RA 10592 did the following:

  • expanded the application of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for prisoners even during preventive suspension
  • increased the number of days for GCTA
  • allowed an additional deduction of 15 days each month of for time allowance for study, teaching or mentoring service (TASTM)
  • expanded the special time allowance for loyalty (STAL) even during preventive suspension

However, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in 2014 mandated the prospective application of the provisions in the law, which prompted several groups, individuals including inmates and relatives of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to question the legality of the IRR.

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The petitioners told the SC that the prospective application in the IRR of the law violates Article 22 of the RPC, which provides for retroactive effect of penal laws.

With the high court’s ruling nullifying the said portion of the law, all prisoners — regardless of whether they are already serving their sentence or undergoing preventive imprisonment — may qualify for the reduction of their sentence even before Oct. 10, 2013.

The high court, through Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, said that the increased time allowances given to qualified prisoners would bring about a substantial reduction in their penalties — “which eventually will result in the decongestion of the jail system in the country.”

“The prospective application of the beneficial provisions of RA 10592 actually works to the disadvantage of petitioners and those who are similarly situated. It precludes the decrease in the penalty attached to their respective crimes and lengthens their prison stay; thus, making more onerous the punishment for the crimes committed,” the high court said.

It added that “depriving them of time off to which they are justly entitled as a practical matter results in extending their sentence and increasing their punishment. Evidently, this transgresses the clear mandate of Article 22 of the RPC.”

Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin and Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio concurred in the decision, along with Associate Justices Mariano C. Del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, Mario Victor F. Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, Andres B. Reyes, Jr., Alexander G. Gesmundo, Jose C. Reyes, Jr., Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Rosmari D. Carandang, Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, and Henri Jean Paul B. Inting.

Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza was on official leave of absence when the petitions were tackled in a full-court session.

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(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)

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TAGS: Good Conduct Time Allowance, New Bilibid Prison, prisoners' credits, Revised Penal Code, Supreme Court
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