By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday asked Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend the arrest of freed convicts who failed to surrender on Thursday, September 19, the deadline imposed by President Duterte.
“We requested that further law enforcement operations be suspended in the meantime,” Guevarra said.
“That’s my request to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and it’s up to him really to make the call. But that’s my recommendation,” he added.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered 1,914 convicts to surrender after being released due to good conduct time allowance (GCTA).
The Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that 1,717 convicts voluntarily surrendered and are already in the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
The 1,914 convicts were released since 2013 when Republic Act 10592 was passed. The law revised provisions of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and increased the GCTAs granted to inmates to allow for their early release
The President issued the order due to concerns that unqualified inmates may have benefited from the law.
Guevarra noted that 1,914 persons in the list released by the BuCor might contain inmates in the “gray area” whose crimes are not known “without looking at the records of their cases whether they committed heinous crimes.”
“We want to make sure that those remaining are actually people that need to be arrested,” the Secretary explained in ordering the suspension of the arrest.
“Pending that verification, considering the number of those who have surrendered almost matched the original number 1,900 plus, then we deem it safe and prudent not to pursue any coercive law enforcement action at this time because we may unduly and unnecessarily endanger the life of not only the PDL (persons deprived of liberty) but even the law enforcement agents,” he pointed out.