The Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10592, or the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance Law, now officially excludes prisoners convicted of heinous crimes from being awarded GCTA credits.
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This came after Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Monday signed the revised IRR, which effectively says people convicted of crimes like rape and murder should not earn time allowances.
Guevarra said government authorities would also start making warrantless arrests of prisoners who had been erroneously released on account of the GCTA Law if they fail to surrender by Thursday, Sept. 19.
“After Sept. 19 and they still refuse [to surrender], we have already taken this position since under the law and under the existing jurisprudence, you have not completed the service of your sentence and it is your duty to serve it to the fullest,” he said.
“We gave you notice. We gave you a grace period of 15 days [yet] you refused without justifiable reason, then in effect you are committing the offense of evasion of sentence,” Guevarra added.
The Justice department said more than 600 prisoners who were prematurely released had surrendered to authorities.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said 612 of the 1,914 freed heinous crime convicts had returned to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections as of 9:30 a.m. on Monday.
Days before the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte, the Palace on Monday renewed its call for heinous crime convicts who were freed for their good conduct to surrender to the police.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said if the 15-day deadline lapsed and the convicts had not turned themselves in to authorities, they would be deemed fugitives from justice.
“The order of the President remains,” Panelo told reporters.
Meanwhile, opposition Senator Leila de Lima has objected to the plan by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate her for the alleged misuse and abuses committed under the GCTA Law.
De Lima, a former Justice secretary, said PACC Commissioner Manuelito Luna should stop dragging her and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II in the controversy hounding the implementation of the GCTA Law to earn “brownie points” from Duterte.
The promulgation of the new IRR came after it was recommended by the Joint Committee of the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior and Local Government, which conducted a review of the controversial measure for 10 days.
The new IRR can already be implemented after its publication in two newspapers of general circulation.
“To the extent that we can implement without having to come up with a very detailed operating manual, we will start processing. But if we find it difficult without a uniform manual, then we may have to defer it,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra also said recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and those charged with heinous crimes were excluded from earning not only GCTAs but also time allowances for study, teaching, and mentoring and loyalty, and credit for preventive imprisonment.
The IRR also adopts the definition of heinous crimes provided for under Republic Act No. 7659, or the death penalty law, “and refers to Supreme Court declarations on what constitutes heinous crimes,” Guevarra said, in a press conference.
Under RA No. 7659, the following crimes are listed: treason, piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery with violence, destructive arson, rape, plunder, some drug-related offenses and carjacking with rape or homicide.
The joint DOJ-DILG committee that reviewed the IRR was given another 60 days to revise the Bureau of Corrections’ manual on GCTAs in accordance with the new IRR.
However, prisoners who are disqualified now but were detained before RA No. 10592 took effect in 2013 will continue to earn lower time allowances under the Revised Penal Code, Guevarra said. With MJ Blancaflor
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