DOJ will be ‘glad’ if Congress, SC can clarify GCTA issue
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday said his office would be “glad” to resolve the issues and confusion surrounding the law on good conduct time allowance (GCTA) the with the help of the Congress or the Supreme Court.
Guevarra said this amid confusion in the eligibility for possible early release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez, former mayor of Calauan town in Laguna.
“Considering the view of some lawyers that all convicted prisoners, regardless of the crimes they committed, are eligible or qualified to receive the benefits of the expanded GCTA law, the DOJ will be glad to have this issue resolved with clarity and finality either by a congressional amendment of its own act or by an interpretation rendered by the Supreme Court in a proper case brought before it,” Guevarra told reporters in a text message.
Guevarra defended, however, the earlier pronouncements of the DOJ and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), saying that the justice department “does not have any conflicting interpretation of the expanded GCTA law.
“Although the BUCOR/DOJ made a general statement that thousands of PDLs, including Sanchez, MAY benefit from said law, the DOJ came out with only one definitive statement regarding the non-entitlement to GCTAs of heinous crime convicts under the 2013 law,” Guevarra said.
The BuCor earlier said that Sanchez is among the over 10,000 inmates who may benefit from the from Republic Act No. 10592, which increased the GCTA given to inmates.
The GCTA provides additional time to be deducted from an inmate’s prison sentence as a reward for his or her good behavior.
But BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon later clarified that Sanchez might not be eligible for early release soon due to his violations while inside the prison.
“Preliminary, kasi marami siyang involvement sa some not good behavior eh baka hindi nga siya qualified, that’s really the probability. He may not be qualified to go home today or in the next few months,” Faeldon said.
Temporary suspension of processing of GCTA
Guevarra on Saturday said that the temporary suspension in the processing of GCTAs of inmates was seriously being considered.
The justice secretary said it will inform the Supreme Court of the need for the suspension.
“We will surely inform the Supreme Court about the need to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs until the BUCOR guidelines have been carefully reviewed by a DOJ task force to be constituted for the purpose,” Guevarra said.
“We expect the processing to pick up greater speed once the guidelines have been reviewed and firmed up,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.