Ombudsman maintains no court order needed for re-arrest of freed prisoners
MANILA, Philippines – Prisoners freed under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) can be re-arrested without a court order or an arrest order, Ombudsman Samuel Martires insisted on Thursday.
At the sidelines of an event at the Office of the Ombudsman’s main office in Quezon City, Martires said that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s previous move to re-arrest an individual after his release order was declared null and void should be followed in this issue.
“Nabasa ko kasi sa isang endorsement ni Secretary Guevarra, na ‘yong approval niya ng release sa isang Chinese na na-release, is conditioned na sabi niya, ‘pag may misrepresentation, the order of release shall be considered null and void,” Martires explained to reporters.
“So kung nakalaya ka, ay dapat sumuko ka kasi magiging fugitive of justice ka. Bakit kailangan ng court order? Sa aking pananaw ha, hindi na kailangan ng court order, wala ring warrant of arrest,” he added.
After it was revealed that 1,914 of the 22,049 convicts released under Republic Act No. 10592, which amended Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a 15-day ultimatum for the freed convicts to surrender.
After this, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest the GCTA-freed prisoners — something that some sectors have questioned whether it is legally binding.
As of Thursday — Duterte’s deadline — only 579 prisoners have surrendered to authorities.
Martires noted that the release of the prisoners is anomalous because the law states that heinous crime convicts are not qualified for GCTA.
However, the prisoners were allegedly freed based on R.A. 10592’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), which omitted the term “heinous crime convicts” on the list of inmates excluded from GCTA.
“‘Yong pagkakalaya mo ay may anomalya eh, (parang) pinayagan kitang lumaya, pero sabi ko sa ‘pag payag ko sa paglaya mo, eh kung ‘yong papeles mo is in order, ‘di ba (no problem)? Pero kung hindi, ‘yong pirma ko doon, yung approval ko doon is null and void,” he said.
This issue has prompted Martires to sent out letters to Senator Leila de Lima and former interior secretary Mar Roxas II to explain the alleged omission. De Lima and Roxas were mandated by R.A. 10592, as former justice and interior secretaries, to craft the IRR.
De Lima said the question should be directed to the Department of Justice, while Roxas reasoned out that “heinous crime convicts” were excluded, although in Rule IV, Section 6 of the IRR./ac
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