‘Duterte order to rearrest heinous crime convicts anchored on 2 SC rulings’
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte used two Supreme Court cases as legal basis in ordering the rearrest of convicts erroneously released after years were shaved off their jail term because of good conduct, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said late Wednesday.
“Basis for rearrest is not a law (statute) but jurisprudence, which forms part of the law of the land,” Guevarra told reporters after Duterte’s press conference where he ordered more than 1,700 convicts to surrender to the nearest police or military detachment or suffer the consequences.
Guevarra said the two cases cited by Duterte were the 1967 case of People vs. Tan and the 2001 case of City Warden of Manila City Jail vs. Raymond S. Estrella et.al.
The case of Tan was mentioned by Senator Franklin Drilon when he said that the re-arrest of the 1,914 heinous crime convicts is possible if the release was in violation of the law and rules.
In this case, Fidel Tan was ordered rearrested by the Supreme Court after he was ordered released by the Provincial Jail Warden after applying the good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
The Supreme Court, through then-Associate Justice JBL Reyes said the warden usurped the authority of the Director of Prisons (now the head of the Bureau of Corrections or BuCor) in crediting the prisoner with good conduct time allowance.
The Court said Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code vests the authority of crediting good conduct time allowance to prisoners to the Director “and no one else.”
The Court said rearresting Tan “would not place him twice in jeopardy because his re-incarceration is merely a continuation of the penalty that he had not completely served due to the erroneous act of the warden.”
On the other hand, in the 2001 case of City Warden of Manila City Jail vs. Raymond S. Estrella et.al., the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) filed a petition for habeas corpus to release inmates from the Manila City Jail.
The IBP found out that 34 inmates have earned enough time allowance to entitle them of their freedom.
The IBP pointed out that the city’s warden has issued verified certifications stating that the detainees have exhibited good behavior and exemplary conduct in the service of their sentences.
It turned out that 22 of the 34 have been released. The trial court, meanwhile allowed the release of the eight other inmates, citing the certification of good behavior issued by the warden.
The Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling due to the absence of the BuCor chief’s certification.
“The question is whether a court may rely on the certification of the City Warden as to good conduct time allowances in ordering the release of prisoners by writ of habeas corpus. We hold that it cannot, in view of Art. 99 of the Revised Penal Code vesting the authority to grant good conduct time allowances solely in the Director of Prisons (BuCor Director,” the court said.
Like in the case of Tan, the Court said rearresting the inmates “can be done without placing them in double jeopardy of being punished for the same offense because their re-incarceration is merely a continuation of the penalties that they had not completely served due to the invalid crediting of good conduct time allowances in their favor.”
Unlike in these two cases, however, the release of 1,914 convicts was upon the orders of the BuCor Directors from 2013 to present.
In both the 1967 and 2001 cases, the court has affirmed the BuCor director’s authority in computing and issuing certifications for the release of inmates.
The issue in both cases is the authority of the warden to assume the duties specifically given by Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code to the Director of Prisons, now the head of BuCor. /gsg