By Ben Rosario
The chairman of the House Committee on Justice filed on Tuesday a bill that will limit to 20 days the maximum good conduct time allowance (GCTA) that may be granted to convicts serving prison sentences.
Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso III said House Bill 4628 will amend Republic Act No. 10592, the GCTA law.
Veloso has also filed House Bill 4553, a separate measure that repeals the provision of the Revised Penal Code limiting to 40 years the maximum period that a convict must serve in prison even if penalized to a number of life imprisonment terms.
HB 4553 has been referred to the House Committee on Revision of Laws, chaired by Zambales Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla.
The two bills were expected to plug loopholes in the law granting GCTA that nearly resulted in the release from prison of former Calauan (Laguna) mayor Antonio Sanchez, who is serving life sentences for rape and double murder.
HB 4628 slashes the “generous” application of GCTA, said Veloso.
Under the bill, the maximum GCTA that may be granted a convict will be 20 days for each month of imprisonment after the person denied of liberty (PDL) has served 11 or more years of the sentence.
RA 10592, Veloso noted, has been so liberal because it grants a maximum 30 days for each month of imprisonment after 11 or more years.
The minimum GCTA proposed by Veloso is five days to be deducted on the sentence of a convict who has served at least two years in prison.
“Ang point ko dito is sobra naman masyadong benevolent ang gobyerno (My point here is that government is so benevolent). We can be so liberal, maybe, if the state is the offended party, not so for private individuals,” said Veloso, a former Court of Appeals magistrate.
The senior administration lawmaker also noted that the maximum 20 days GCTA will also address the legal controversy over the computation of its grant for the month of February which has 28 days.
Expected to be treated a priority legislative measure by the Justice panel, HB 4553 will no longer cover persons who had been previously convicted and sentenced to prison term.
“We have reduced the good conduct time allowance but this will not have any bearing on criminals who have been previously convicted because we cannot pass an ex-post facto law,” stated Veloso.
Others PDLs not covered by the GCTA are those who have been convicted twice or more of grave offenses, recidivists, escapees and habitual delinquents who have committed grave felonies.
In filing HB 4553, Veloso explained that there is an urgent need to address the amendments to the Revised Penal Code that was approved during the term of former President Benigno Aquino III.
“Due to this, the issue of service of sentence and the 40-year limit set out in Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code has surfaced,” said Veloso.
The revision of Article 70 resulted in the setting of 40 years the maximum imprisonment that a convict will serve even if sentenced to several counts of reclusion perpetua.
“To prevent the blatant travesty of the justice system and to ensure that justice is served by the accused and achieved by the victims or relatives of the victims, repeal of the 5th paragraph of Article 70 should be approved,” said Veloso in seeking the deletion of the 40-year maximum imprisonment.