DOJ: 2,009 GCTA-freed prisoners have surrendered
MANILA, Philippines – At least 2,009 prisoners who were freed under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) have already surrendered to authorities as of Friday morning, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
According to Undersecretary Markk Perete, 1,773 of the prisoners are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), while 236 are with the Philippine National Police (PNP).
This number exceeds the count of heinous crime convicts asked to surrender by President Rodrigo Duterte — 1,914 inmates, according to BuCor — which means that some of those who surrendered may have not been convicted of heinous crimes like rape, murder, parricide, kidnapping for ransom, and arson.
“That is why we have the verification process in place, we want to make sure that all those who have surrendered are in the original 1,914 list. […] As of 11 o’clock yesterday evening, the last report that we got was that the number of prisoners who surrenders was at 1,717, and from that moment on, we started to remove from the list those who have surrendered already,” Perete said.
“But at 12 midnight, we received a report that the number has swelled to 1,950. Because of that information, it became apparent that the number of surrenderers may actually include individuals who are not included in the official 1,914 BuCor list,” he added.
These 1,914 convicts, who were supposedly convicted of heinous crimes, should have not been freed under GCTA, as Republic Act No. 10592 which amended Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code disqualifies them.
However, Perete noted that what was BuCor said was that the 1,914 convicts were sentenced with reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment — which does not automatically translate to the commission of a heinous crime.
This supposedly complicates their verification process, as the DOJ and BuCor cannot immediately conclude that the 1,914 — minus the convicts pardoned and on parole — are heinous crime convicts.
“If you go over the list, the residual list, would be reclusion perpetua, or reclusion perpetua – death (sentence). That does not necessarily mean that the crime they committed may be heinous,” Perete explained.
“That became the basis for us to request first the records from BuCor so that we can ascertain with finality who among the individuals in the residual list are in fact convicted of heinous crimes,” he noted.
The consideration of prisoners’ GCTA against their jail sentences was due to R.A. 10592, signed by then-President Benigno Aquino III.
Current administration officials have blamed the past Cabinet secretaries, in particular ex-justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima, and former interior secretary Mar Roxas, for allegedly omitting the term “heinous crime convicts” in prisoners disallowed from the GCTA.
Both were tasked to craft R.A. 10592’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR)./ac
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