By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
With the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Wednesday that he hopes that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) will expedite the release of deserving convicts.
Recto agreed with President Duterte’s appeal to the DOJ to free old and sick inmates.
“With the signing of the revised rules on GCTA, it is hoped that our Justice and prison officials will work overtime like elves in Santa’s workshop to bring the genuinely sick, infirm, old, terminally-ill prisoners home to their families this Christmas,” the Senate leader said in a statement.
“The President is correct – reboot the GCTA process and start with prisoners who, in addition to fulfilling all GCTA requirements, should be freed on humanitarian grounds,” he added.
But for an “impartial” implementation of the GCTA, Recto proposed that the list of those who are set for release should be vetted by an independent oversight body.
“And not by the foxes who’ve been let loose in the chicken coop,” he pointed out.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año recently signed the new IRR for the 2013 Republic Act No. 10592, which allowed the early release of more prisoners due to good behavior.
The revised IRR clearly excludes convicts of heinous crimes from benefitting from the law.
Guevarra said that with the release of the new IRR, the processing of the GCTAs resumes.
Duterte, on Tuesday, said he will ask the DOJ to fast track the release of aging and sick inmates.
For Recto, the “GTCA for sale” controversy should also highlight how much taxpayers are spending to maintain the country’s detention centers and jails.
He noted that the BuCor’s proposed budget for 2020 is P4.2 billion, which, with a projected inmate population of 47,101, would translate to a P91,407-expense per prisoner for housing, food, transportation, among others.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, meanwhile, was allocated with P18.6 billion to manage its projected 182,556 detainees with P101,887 each.
“A preso (prisoner) is a hundred-thousand-peso annual expense, a taxpayer burden that is four times the annual P23,125 price tag of sending a child to a public school or college,” he cited for instance.
“The billions of pesos we pay for our prisons is the annual national penalty we pay for our slow justice system,” Recto said.