Duterte takes to task former officials for GCTA mess

Published September 11, 2019, 4:43 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte is interested to know the explanation of past administration officials why they crafted the “hazy” implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte answers queries from the members of the media following the oath-taking ceremony of the officers of the Malacañang Press Corps, Presidential Photojournalists Association, and Malacañang Cameramen Association at the Malacañan Palace on September 10, 2019. (ACE MORANDANTE/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

The President maintained that the IRR for the early release of inmates for good conduct credits should have been crafted with clarity and accuracy to avoid mistakes.

The Office of the Ombudsman recently asked former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to clarify the IRR crafted for Republic Act No. 10592 following the questionable release of more than a thousand heinous crime convicts.

“Eh sila ‘yung nag – gumawa ng batas sa panahon nila. ‘Yung IRR kanila. So tanungin natin sila ‘Bakit ginanun ninyo?’ Hindi man amin ‘yan. Now we get the flak. For what?” [They crafted the law during their time. They did the IRR so let’s ask them, ‘Why did you do it?’ That’s not ours. Now, we get the flak. For what?],” Duterte said during a press conference in Malacañang last Tuesday.

“You should have placed that in a clear and water – accurate manner so that there will be no room for mistake. Because if you place it where – and there are two interpretations of the law, that is not proof beyond reasonable doubt,” he added.

Amid the various interpretations of the GCTA law, the President also agreed with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s suggestion to bring the matter before the Supreme Court for clarity.

“Mismong si Guevarra nagsabi siya [Guevarra has said], ‘Let us go to the Supreme Court for the proper interpretation of the law.’ If that is the Guevarra statement, then it would tell you that hazy ang batas [the law is hazy],” he added.

RA10592, which allows the reduction of prison sentence for inmates with good behavior, became controversial following the public outcry against the almost release of rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez.

Around 1,900 heinous crimes convicts were still released under GCTA law but the President has ordered them to surrender or else be considered fugitives. The Palace argued that heinous crime convicts should have not been freed since they, along with recidivists, habitual delinquents, and escapees, are not covered by the GCTA law.

The IRR, crafted and issued jointly by De Lima and Roxas in 2014, however, did not exclude convicts of heinous crimes from availing the benefits of the law, causing the GCTA mess, according to the Palace.

Meantime, Duterte said the inmates should surrender to authorities for the investigation into their release amid corruption allegations. He said the inmates could have 15 days of liberty while waiting for the results of the recompilation of their good conduct time credits.

“It is my duty that if he has complied with the requirements of the law, including the computation doon sa release niya, I will order. Ang imbestigahan ‘yung mga empleyado, hindi ‘yung mga preso. They might be potential witnesses,” he said.

The government is also prepared to provide transportation and temporary shelter to the returning inmates, the President said.

“Kung sabihin mo malayo ka, then you tell me because I will ask the DILG to provide you with a – money so that you can come to Manila, register with the… Tapos we will provide you with the temporary shelter. Yeah, that’s the best – the most fair that I can think of,” he said.

The President recently fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon for defying his order not to release the inmates. He also called for an investigation on BuCor officials by the Office of the Ombudsman over the questionable early release of the prisoners.