The Ombudsman has asked former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima why they failed to exclude persons convicted of heinous crimes when they drafted the rules for the early release of prisoners under the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law.
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In a letter dated Sept. 6, Ombudsman Samuel Martires asked Roxas and De Lima to submit their written explanations within three days on why the implementing rules and regulations they drafted did not include the exclusions in Section 1 of Republic Act 10592 or the GCTA Law.
At least 1,914 heinous crime convicts have been granted early freedom since 2014—and the government is now trying to round them up.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said it welcomed any aggrieved party to sue the government before any competent court for its interpretation and implementation of the GCTA Law.
“The government will welcome any challenge by an interested party in a court of law, so that a definitive and final interpretation of RA 10592 could be promulgated for everyone’s guidance,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said, in a text message to reporters.
Guevarra noted that since the controversy erupted following reports of the planned and later aborted early release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, there has been no report of anyone challenging the government’s interpretation of the law, or the Supreme Court decision that it be applied retroactively.
“The government has taken its legal position on the issue. This position will be reflected in the new implementing rules and regulation [IRR] of RA 10592,” he said.
The DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued a joint department order on Aug. 29 to temporarily suspend the implementation of the GCTA until their joint committee has completed a review of the IRR and guidelines.
The joint committee is expected to issue a report on Sept. 12.
The Philippine National Police said 130 convicts released under the GCTA law have surrendered to various police offices while two others surrendered to the Special Action Forces (SAF) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, as of Monday afternoon.
PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, said 25 of the surrenderers have been turned over to the Bureau of Corrections while they are still processing the documents of the others.
Banac said a total of 1,914 heinous crime convicts were released through the GCTA but said they have yet to receive an official copy of the list from BuCor.
Banac said they are hoping that all of the 1,914 convicts will surrender within the 15-day grace period set by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We already know their last addresses and these will be looked into by our tracker teams,” Banac said in Filipino.
“Don’t wait for the 15-day grace period, surrender now to the nearest police station in your area,” he urged the convicts.
As soon as 15-day period lapses, police tracker teams will be deployed across the country to start the manhunt on Sept. 19.
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group will lead the hunt for the convicts.
Those who already fled the country will be tracked down through the help of Interpol, he added. With PNA
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