‘Surrendered’ inmates first to go—BuCor

The Bureau of Corrections will start releasing prisoners who heeded President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to surrender but whose releases were not related to the erroneous application of the Good Conduct Time Allowance, Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said Monday.

Perete said the release of surrendered inmates “will be made even before the completion of the cleaned-up list.”

Meanwhile, a total of 2,221 prisoners who had been prematurely released on account of Good Conduct Time Allowance had surrendered to the Bureau of Corrections, Perete said.

“As of 9:00am today, Sept. 23, a total of 2,221 individuals have surrendered, 1,985 of whom are already at the BuCor while 236 are still in the custody of the Philippine National Police,” Perete said in a text message to reporters.

The total number of 2,221 PDLs is 307 more than the 1,914 PDLs who were in the original list provided by the BuCor.

The BuCor is currently cleaning up the list of inmates prematurely released on account of the good conduct time allowance, which the agency submitted to the Senate, Department of Justice, Department of Interior and Local Government and Philippine National Police.

Based on the list, there were 200 people who were deprived of liberty released after the Supreme Court declared that the implementation of the Extended GCTA law should be retroactive. 

The list also showed that 445 heinous crime PDLs had been released by the previous administration beginning 2014, while 1,714 heinous crime PDLs had been released from the start of the Duterte administration.

However, the list does not only contain inmates that benefited from the GCTA but also other inmates released due to acquittal by the courts, and were granted parole or received conditional pardon from the President himself.

The Justice official said members of the DOJ-BuCor Task Force were currently at the Senate and checking the carpetas [records] of the PDLs as part of the verification process.

“They will work there until we complete the process,” Perete said.

Meanwhile, Senator Leila M. de Lima believes the revised rules of the GCTA Law is meant to cover up for the corruption in the BuCor and the obvious negligence in its implementation.

De Lima said Monday the new Implementing Rules and Regulations of the GCTA Law failed to reflect its original intent towards genuine prison reform in the country by removing the opportunity for Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) to have a second chance at life.

The detained senator said the new IRR “has no significance but to sacrifice the rights of PDLs to be free” and to “cover up the stupidity” of former BuCor Director Nicanor Faeldon and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

De Lima said the Duterte administration has scrambled to issue a revised IRR of the Republic Act No. 10592, or the Expanded GCTA Law, after getting criticisms over its alleged misuse and abuse of GCTA to benefit unqualified and undeserving PDLs.

Drafted by the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the new IRR now categorically excludes convicts of heinous crime, regardless of their good behavior in prison, from availing of GCTA and other time allowances. 

That renders the IRR “ultra vires” or done beyond one’s legal power or authority, according to De Lima.

Instead of defending the new IRR amid questions on its legality and faithfulness to the GCTA Law, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra merely said that people can challenge the IRR before the court—a statement that De Lima found unacceptable.

The senator and former Justice secretary maintained that any head of agency in charge of promulgating the IRR of a law should be convinced himself of the correctness of the implementing rules, and should be able to stand by its regularity.

“DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra does not seem to be so confident with their revised IRR on RA 10592. He believes that if it is not the correct interpretation of the law, it is up to the Supreme Court to settle any question raised against it,” she said.

“With due respect to Sec. Guevarra, this is passing the buck to the Court,” added De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.

READ: DOJ suspends arrest of freed GCTA convicts

Topics: Bureau of Corrections , Rodrigo Duterte , Good Conduct Time Allowance , Markk Perete
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