De Lima wants GCTA law improved, not junked
MANILA, Philippines — Instead of repealing the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, members of Congress should instead improve it.
Senator Leila De Lima said this Wednesday in view of moves to junk the law that shortens prison time of inmates following public outrage on the possible early release of convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez.
“Let’s improve the law and/or the IRR [implementing rules and regulation], if we must. But, please, let’s not abrogate it. To junk this law is to retrogress from hard-won triumphs in the legal universe,” De Lima said in a statement.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) earlier said that Sanchez’ possible early release was due to his “good conduct” under the GCTA law.
This, despite previous reports of Sanchez’ possession of illegal drugs while inside jail and owning luxury items such as air-conditioning unit in his cell.
Amid public uproar, Senate President Vicente Sotto III alongside Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Richard Gordon on Monday filed Senate Bill No. 993 seeking to repeal the GCTA law that was enacted in May 2013.
The senators explained that the “intention of the framers is primarily to grant good conduct allowance to persons deprived of liberty while their case is still pending.”
“However, when it was enacted into law, it caused an absurd interpretation; and its very provisions needed harmonization. Furthermore, it has been subject to abuse by the persons allowed by law to grant time allowances,” they added.
But De Lima argued that the “misapplication” of the law should not cloud its legitimacy, as she called for her colleagues to instead improve the law.
“I humbly appeal to my colleagues in both Chambers of Congress to dredge, foremost, into our collective consciousness, the merits of the GCTA Law [both the original and amendatory provisions] as rooted in the restorative philosophy or principles that underlie our modern criminal justice and correctional systems,” De Lima said.
“Let not the legitimacy and the well-settled wisdom of the law be clouded or demolished by its misapplication, abuses in enforcement or wrongdoings on the part of the designated implementors of the law,” she added.
Further, De Lima added: “To paraphrase a line from a movie which tackles, in part, the fluid majesty of Law, ‘we ought not to be affected by the weather of the day,’ but should be by the ‘climate of the era.’”
Senator Sonny Angara earlier filed a separate Senate bill seeking to merely amend the GCTA law.
Among Angara’s proposed amendments include a clearer definition of the term “heinous crimes” and excluding persons convicted of such crimes from availing the law, among others. /jpv
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