Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon have filed a bill seeking to repeal Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law.
The senators filed Senate Bill 993 on Monday proposing to scrap the law that shaves off jail time of prisoners due to good behavior amid the public outcry
over the possible release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez
due to the law’s implementation.
READ: 'Nightmares' over Sanchez
A copy of the bill was made available Tuesday.
Sanchez has been sentenced to suffer the maximum penalty of seven 40-year imprisonment terms or seven counts of reclusion perpetua for one of the most sensational crimes in the 1990s, the rape, and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez—both students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
“This has created public outrage and prompted this august body to look into the propriety of its application to the aforesaid prisoner, as well as the implementation of RA 10592 in general,” the senators said in their explanatory note.
The senators noted the absurd interpretation of the law and unharmonized provisions that have been subject to abuse by the persons allowed by law to grant time allowances.
They argued that there is “logical reason” to abandon the grant of GCTA if the magnitudes of its aftermath are prejudicial for many of the victims and their relatives who are seeking justice.
“The provision on GCTA has been in effect since the 1930s and it has not raised this kind of concern from the people and the government. Thus, it is an opportune time to go back to the old law where no question of proper implementation has been put forth to the government and prisoners are enjoying its benefits without a question of the propriety of its applicability on them,” they said.
“The law is always changing. It is usually reactive to what the society dictates and it constantly reflects changes that occur in our society because the law is simply never perfect,” they added.
During a Senate hearing on the law, Senator Christopher Go said he has filed a bill to clearly state the intent and policy of the law not to extend the benefits of GCTA to prisoners who are convicted of heinous crimes.
To eliminate corruption, he also included a provision stating that any release of prisoners on the basis of time allowances would be subject to review.
READ: Task force to review convicts’ GCTA rules
Meanwhile, Drilon urged the executive department to rearrest the three men convicted in the rape and murder of Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong in 1997, which could trigger a test case before the Supreme Court.
In related developments:
• Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said the government will take prompt action on the case of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes who were “prematurely released” despite lacking entitlements for GCTA under the law.
• Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the more than 1,900 convicts released early should return to jail due to allegations of corruption and so that their cases can be reviewed.
• Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez called for major amendments in the GCTA Law to remove ambiguities that unscrupulous prison officials and wealthy convicts can exploit.
• Senator Leila M. de Lima defended the GCTA Law, saying its intent was to encourage active or pro-active good conduct exemplified by active involvement in rehabilitation programs and authorized activities.
• Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte should not be blamed for the GCTA Law that shortens prison terms for good behavior. “We stress that the granting of GCTA is not a form of executive clemency, the awarding of which belongs to the Office of the President. The buck, in this case, stops with the Bureau of Corrections,” Panelo said. With PNA
READ: Panelo denies role in Sanchez case
READ: Duterte stops Sanchez release