Four Chinese drug lords were among the 2,000 inmates released by the Bureau of Corrections in June as a result of good conduct time allowance, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Thursday.
The Bureau of Immigration said the four Chinese drug lords were in its custody and awaiting deportation.
“I don’t have all the details except that GCTA was again the reason for the release,” Lacson said.
“These are convicted Chinese drug lords that have already been released,” Lacson said.
The senator said he asked for a list of inmates set for release on Aug. 20, which allegedly included the name of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, but he was told the list was missing.
“We are trying to look for a copy of the August 20 release order in favor of Mayor Sanchez but apparently the copy has gone missing,” Lacson said.
BuCor said Thursday it has released 1,914 inmates convicted of heinous crimes on the basis of the good conduct-based reductions in their prison terms.
Of the 22,049 inmates released from 2014 to 2019 due to GCTA, 1,914 had been convicted of heinous crimes, BuCor data shows. These include 797 sentenced for murder, 758 for rape, 274 for robber with violence or intimidation, 48 for drug-related offenses, 29 for parricide, five for kidnapping with illegal detention and three for destructive arson.
The inmates were freed on the basis of Republic Act No. 10592, a 2013 law that increased GCTAs or days that may be deducted from prison terms of qualified prisoners who show good behavior while in prison. In June, the Supreme Court said the law should be applied retroactively, making it possible to release thousands of inmates from as far back as the 1990s—including Sanchez.
Amid a public outcry over Sanchez’s possible release, the Department of Justice suspended the processing and awarding of GCTA for 10 days, pending a review of the early release guidelines.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año created a joint committee to undertake and complete the review in 10 days.
Sanchez, the former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, was sentenced to seven life terms of up to 40 years each for the rape and killing of University of the Philippines Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her boyfriend, Allan Gomez, in 1993.
Malacañang and the DOJ insist that Sanchez should be excluded from GCTA coverage because he was convicted of heinous crimes, but the BuCor has already freed more than 1,900 inmates who were found guilty of similar crimes.
Guevarra admitted that the Palace has specifically requested that the processing of Sanchez’s case be held until factual and legal issues are resolved.
Senator Richard Gordon, meanwhile, filed a bill to prevent abuse in the computation of GCTA.
The bill, he said, would protect the law from abuse by “powerful personalities whose years of imprisonment have not changed a bit the crooked and villainous character that made them commit crimes for which they have been convicted.”
Gordon’s bill, which seeks to amend the Revised Penal Code, would introduce additional measures for the implementation of Republic Act No. 10592 or the law providing for good conduct time allowance or GCTA.
Among the bill’s proposals is to digitize jail records “to ensure there would be prompt and accurate information of the time served by a prisoner.”
“Computation of remaining service must be transparent and available to the public,” the bill said.
The Bureau of Corrections and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology would be required to also use computers and computer programs “to monitor the progress of detainees or prisoners convicted by final judgement, capable of incorporating time allowances that may be granted to each of them.”
Gordon’s proposal would also disqualify from good conduct release inmates proven to have violated prison rules.
Sanchez was listed for release on good conduct despite being found stashing P1.5 million in crystal meth, or shabu, inside a Virgin Mary statuette in his special cottage at the New Bilibid Prison.
In a related development, the parents of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, reaped and killed in July 1997, denounced the impending release of three of the seven convicted of the crime as an injustice. The three were among those who may be freed early because of GCTA.