By Argyll Geducos
With two more days to go before the lapse of the 15-day grace period given by President Duterte for them to surrender, Malacañang has appealed to inmates released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) to surrender to authorities because they would be treated as criminals if they would not turn themselves in by Thursday.
“As the President said when the 15-day deadline lapses, then they will be deemed to be fugitives from justice and they can be arrested,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing on Monday.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said about 435 inmates freed via the GCTA have already surrendered to the police.
But Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete said before noon Monday, about 612 inmates have already surrendered and are in custody of the Bureau of Corrections.
President Duterte warned on September 4 that he will treat the released inmates as criminals if they do not surrender within 15 days and might consider putting a P1 million bounty per inmate being fugitives of justice.
The anomaly over the release of inmates on account of good behavior was discovered following reports of the impending release from prison of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez who is serving a 280-year jail term for the 1993 rape-slay of Eileen Sarmenta and murder of Allan Gomez.
The controversy did not only result in the removal of BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon but it initiated a Senate inquiry that revealed the modes of corruption in the state penitentiary.
Meanwhile, Panelo said he will ask President Duterte if he knew of the supposed bad blood among his men – Faeldon, former BuCor chief now Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino.
Panelo made the statement after Aquino said that Dela Rosa, during his time, ordered the removal of PDEA’s listening device that caught conversations about drug dealings of detained drug lords.
Aquino also said that he asked Faeldon when he took over to conduct drug tests on inmates but the proposal was reportedly turned down.
“I’ll ask him (President Duterte) about it. But meanwhile, you must remember that there is an ongoing investigation of the Senate. So we will have to wait for the findings of the Senate,” Panelo said.
“Has Mr. Aquino submitted a memorandum to the President relative to that? We have to ask him first. If he has, then we will find out what action the President said,” he added. (With reports from Jeffrey Damicog and Aaron Recuenco)