Guevarra won’t ‘put blame on’ De Lima, Roxas for mess in GCTA’s IRR
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday said he “wouldn’t really put the blame” on former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II over the implementing rules and regulation (IRR) of the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.
“Well I wouldn’t really put the blame on them in the sense that they wilfully adopted a wrong interpretation,” Guevarra said in an interview over CNN Philippines.
“But maybe we just say that perhaps if there was a greater oversight over what was happening there sa BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) then probably this could’ve been discovered much earlier,” he added.
Guevarra admitted that the same thing could be said to him and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, saying that they only found out about the problem until the news of the possible early release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez under the GCTA law broke out.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has just recently completed and signed the revised IRR of the GCTA law, which increased the time subtracted from a convict’s prison term because of good behavior.
Section 7 of the GCTA law, formally known as Republic Act 10592, tasked the Secretary of Justice and the Secretary of Interior and Local Government to craft the law’s IRR after its enactment.
Roxas was Interior Secretary while De Lima was Justice Secretary back when the law was signed by former President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2013.
But Section 3 of the law’s IRR states that those disqualified from availing GCTA are “an accused who is a recidivist”, “an accused who has been convicted previously twice or more than times of any crime”, and “an accused who, upon being summoned for the execution of his sentence, has failed to surrender voluntarily before a law of court.”
This, despite R.A. 10592 stating that “recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and persons charged with heinous crimes” are excluded from availing GCTA.
For this, the Office of the Ombudsman has asked De Lima and Roxas to submit “a written explanation/clarification on why the foregoing provision in the IRR does not contain the same disqualifications as enumerated in the last paragraph of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 1 of R.A. 10592.”
Guevarra said the revised IRR has more clarity than its previous version.
“I would say that the main difference is clarity. The previous IRR did not make any clear specifications on who were excluded from the benefits of that law,” Guevarra said. /kga
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