By Rey Panaligan
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said Sunday none of the prisoners released prematurely on account of the Good Conduct and Time Allowance (GCTA) law has left the country.
Citing a report from the Bureau of Immigration (BI), Guevarra said: “Preliminary reports from BI indicates none of the PDLs (person deprived of liberty) who were prematurely released on account of GCTA and included in the list submitted by Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has left the country.”
DOJ Spokesman and Undersecretary Markk Perete said 76 prisoners released under GCTA are now in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) as of early Sunday.
The 76 surrenderers include the 28 prisoners turned over to BuCor by the officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region II, Perete said.
DOJ records showed that among those who have surrendered were two of three men serving 40 years imprisonment for the 1997 rape-slay of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong of Cebu City.
Secretary Guevarra earlier identified the surrenderers as Ariel Balansag and Alberto Cano. The third convict, Josman Aznar, is expected to surrender this week.
Guevarra had directed immigration officers and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in ports and airports to be on full alert and look out for any GCTA-released prisoners who might leave the country.
Perete said the DOJ interim oversight committee headed by Undersecretary Deo Marco will meet Monday, September 9, with BuCor officials headed by officer-in-charge Melvin Ramon Buenafe to discuss coordinating mechanisms on the turnover of surrenderers and to conduct inspections.
Secretary Guevarra created an oversight committee “to watch over” the BuCor until a new director general is appointed.
BuCor records showed that 2,159 heinous crimes convicts – those convicted of rape and murder – who should have been excluded from the benefits of the GCTA law under Republic Act No. 10592 were released from jail from January 2014 to Aug. 20 this year.
President Duterte had ordered prisoners convicted of heinous crimes like rape and murder and who were released under GCTA to surrender within 15 days and register themselves before the BuCor or else they would be considered fugitives.
The uproar over the prisoners’ release under the GCTA and the botched release of rapist and murderer former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sachez led the President to sack BuCor director general Nicanor Faeldon.
Allegations of corruption and other irregularities in BuCor are now under investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).