PH gov’t can’t compel GCTA-freed convicts abroad to surrender — SOJ
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government cannot compel heinous crime convicts who were freed because of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law and are now abroad to turn themselves in to serve the remaining time of their sentences, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Thursday.
Guevarra explained that the Philippines would no longer have jurisdiction over the said freed convicts.
“‘Yung may kakayahan, akala nila talaga pwede na, valid naman ‘yung pagkaka-release sa kanila at sila’y nangibang bansa, wala tayong magagawa roon kasi karapatan nila ‘yun eh,” Guevarra told reporters in an interview after the House appropriations committee hearing on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 2020 budget.”
This is on account of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order that heinous crime convicts must surrender themselves to authorities within 15 days or be considered as “fugitives.”
Guevarra said the government would have to wait until the convicts return to the country before they could ask them to turn themselves in.
He added that they DOJ is not yet considering the option to tap Interpol in bringing the freed convicts abroad back to the country.
“Hintayin na lang natin uli na sila ay makabalik at kapag nandito na eh ‘di may jurisdiction na uli tayo,” the justice secretary said.
“Baka kahit naman nakalabas ng country baka magkusang loob eh, na bumalik,” he added.
Guevarra also explained that the DOJ cannot bar convicts from leaving the country as only lower courts are allowed to issue hold departure orders (HDOs).
In the meantime, the DOJ will issue immigration lookout bulletin orders to monitor the movements of the freed convicts in the country and abroad.
For convicts who will refuse to surrender themselves to authorities, Guevarra explained that they could be charged with evasion of sentence and be subject to warrantless arrests.
Meanwhile, freed convicts who wish to turn themselves in would just have to go to the police station or military camps nearest to them.
“Eventually, ibabalik sila sa penitentiary, that means to say they acknowledge na hindi pa nila nase-serve yung kanilang sintensya kaya nagkukusang loob na bumalik sa Muntinlupa or anywhere na dati silang nakapiit,” Guevarra said. /je