Friday, September 6, 2019

HEINOUS CRIME Convicts Released Under GCTA Begin SURRENDERING to Authorities

One of the notable provisions for some modern criminal justice systems around the world is that, even if a convicted criminal might be sentenced to lengthy or lifetime prison terms, they might still have a chance of early release if they consistently show good behavior during their incarceration. This is the “time off for good behavior” or “good conduct credit,” something the Philippine justice system also has. Unfortunately, the country’s system seems to have been exploited to the point that several inmates convicted of heinous crimes were reportedly released on questionable good conduct credits. The President has deemed the issue grave enough to call on the released to surrender, and no less than 33 have.
ABS-CBN News reports that in the wake of the 15-day deadline ultimatum issued by President Rodrigo Duterte this past Wednesday, for all convicts newly-released from prison by “good conduct time allowance” to return to police custody, 33 GCTA beneficiaries who were initially imprisoned due to heinous crimes have surrendered as of Friday, September 6. This is in line with the now-ongoing investigation in the Senate regarding questionable practices in the GCTA program by the Bureau of Corrections, which saw many heinous crime convicts released early.
In a breakdown of figures by the BuCor, 9 GCTA-beneficiary ex-cons have surrendered at their headquarters in Muntinlupa City, while 20 more turned themselves in at police stations throughout Cagayan province. A former convict each voluntarily surrendered to authorities in the respective provinces of Ifugao, Laguna, and Cebu. All these are but a mere drop in the ocean of around 2,000 convicts – many of whom committed “heinous” crimes – released under the GCTA law, which was also expanded back in 2013. The Presidential ultimatum of April 4 gave these ex-cons 15 days from that time to return to police custody lest they be branded as fugitives.
Questions about the good conduct time allowance system in Philippine criminal justice arose when it was revealed that former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, serving a total of 360 years in prison for, among many crimes, the double murder of Eileen Sanchez and Allan Gomez, was supposed to be released for GCTA last August. The fact that his release form and many others under the 2013-expanded GCTA law were done so under the authority of Bureau of Corrections Director-General Nicanor Faeldon led to Faeldon stepping down from his position amid the controversy, which has eyewitness accounts alleging practices like inmate relatives “paying” monetarily for GCTA.
Even before the 15-day deadline given by President Duterte arrives, the Philippine National Police will already deploy tracker teams to find the GCTA-beneficiary convicts. The Department of Justice is also in the progress of issuing a blanket immigration lookout notice for the same released inmates.

Image courtesy of Manila Times


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