Sotto backs DOJ request to suspend rearrest of freed convicts
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Saturday backed the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to suspend the rearrest of convicts who were freed under the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
The DOJ made the recommendation after the number of surrenderers exceeded the official number of wanted prisoners.
“I think it should be suspended for the time being,” Sotto, speaking in Filipino, said in an interview over AM radio station DWIZ. “There are various reasons why there was an excess. That means the list the Bureau of Corrections submitted was incomplete. It seems there are more of them.”
“Why were there more surrenderees than those being pursued? That means there are more of them [who were released but were not listed],” he added.
Sotto said that those who were rightfully released but surrendered following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the freed convicts to surrender should be released again.
He noted how the families of some of those released had been complaining that the inmates were released properly. So why should they surrender?
He made an assurance then that Senate would pursue the issued so that those who were legitimately released would stay keep their freedom.
“But those who are not qualified — those illegally released, like those involved in heinous crimes, recidivists… they won’t be allowed to get out. Wait for their proper time,” he added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the delay would allow for the list of the wanted persons to be verified and finalized.
This process, Sotto said, should be fast-tracked so that those who had been legally released but surrendered would be immediately rereleased for their waiting relatives.
The initial number of heinous crime convicts released under GCTA was only at 1,914. But as of Friday morning, Sept. 20, the number of surrenderers stood at 2,009.
“That is why we have the verification process in place,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said. “We want to make sure that all those who have surrendered are in the original 1,914 list.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.