By Aaron Recuenco
Forty-six former prisoners, who were earlier freed from prison on account of the controversial good conduct time allowance but surrendered to authorities in September, reportedly escaped from the holding area of the Iwahig Penal Colony in Palawan on Friday night.
According to Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Spokesman Maj. Albert Tapiru, eight of those bolted the facility have decided to return.
“There are still 38 who are yet to be accounted for. We are already coordinating with the local police to either convince them to surrender through their relatives or to recapture them,” Tapiru told the Manila Bulletin in an interview.
Tapiru said that after President Duterte ordered the surrender of all those freed under the GCTA, a lot of inmates from the Iwahig Penal Colony complied and turned themselves in at the same facility.
All of them were placed inside the recreation area of the Iwahig Penal Colony which was turned into their temporary holding area.
“They are temporarily being held there while the verification of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is going on. They were not placed inside the regular detention facility because it is yet to be determined by the DOJ if they deserve to be returned to prison,” said Tapiru.
The inmates who escaped appeared to have grown impatient over the length of time it has taken to resolve their cases if they were, indeed, entitled to avail of the benefits of GCTA.
A little over 1,900 inmates were asked to surrender but more than 2,000 showed up to various penal colonies and police stations across the country.
On Friday night, Tapiru said some of those who escaped destroyed the lock of the recreation area and fled.
“They took advantage of the heavy rains last night (Friday). But not all of those inside the recreation area escaped, there are others who chose to stay,” said Tapiru.
Tapiru said that while they understand the impatience of those who surrendered, he appealed to them to respect the process of the verification.
“The verification is a continuous process. There are a lot of inmates who surrendered so it is taking time. We hope that they would understand it,” said Tapiru.
In fact, he said some of those who surrendered at the Iwahig were already freed after they passed the DOJ’s verification process.