De Lima: Early release of inmates via GCTA part of plot to revive death penalty
MANILA, Philippines—Senator Leila De Lima on Friday accused the administration of using the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law and the possible early release of rape and murder convict, former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, to drum up support for the revival of the death penalty.
De Lima stressed that Republic Act No. 10592, which shaves years off a prisoner’s jail term for good behavior, is not the problem but rather government’s “misapplication and misinterpretation” of the law.
“Huwag dapat sisihin yung batas. Maayos ang layunin ng R.A. 10592. Pero, dahil sa kapalpakan ng ilang opisyal, sinadya man o hindi, pilit nilang binabaluktot ang tunay na diwa ng batas na ‘yan. Pinipilit na naman nila ang death penalty,” De Lima said in a statement.
(The law should not be blamed. The objectives of R.A. 10592 are clear. However because of the failure of some officials, they are now trying to twist the law and return the death penalty)
The detained opposition senator surmised that the premature announcement of the supposed release of Sanchez could be part of a propaganda blitz to drumbeat support for the revival of the death penalty.
Sanchez, along with six of his aides, received seven life sentences each for the rape and murder of UP Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.
“Mukhang sinasabotahe nila yung batas para isulong nila ang death penalty. Ginalit na naman nila ang mga tao para mas katanggap-tanggap ang death penalty. Devious minds!” De Lima said.
(It seems that they are sabotaging the law to push for the return of the death penalty. They are trying to get the people angry to make the death penalty acceptable. Devious minds!)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier announced Sanchez and the 13 New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates used as witnesses in the drug charges against De Lima as among those who will benefit from the GCTA Law.
However, Sanchez’s planned release drew massive outrage, forcing Guevarra to order a review of current guidelines being used by the Bureau of Corrections in computing the time allowances given to inmates.
De Lima, who has been detained for drug-related charges at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame, said Guevarra should have exercised prudence by checking the very provisions of the law, its implementing rules and regulations and the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on the case involving the NBP inmates before making the announcement.
“Maybe it was precisely to enrage the public, and to garner public support for the death penalty, that Guevarra announced Sanchez’s impending release. If yes, it was a costly tactic that backfired on Guevarra,” she said.
The Duterte administration has been pushing for the revival of the death penalty.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address, President Duterte pushed for the reimposition of capital punishment for “heinous crimes related to illegal drugs and plunder.” /muf
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