Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday asked Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to suspend the arrest of convicts who were prematurely released on good behavior, one day into the manhunt for those that remained at large.
READ: Trackers hunt down convicts
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte said those among the 1,914 heinous crime convicts who did not surrender after a 15-day grace period that expired Sept. 19 would be rearrested and shot if they resisted arrest.
READ: 106 tracker teams fan out to rearrest GCTA fugitives
But Guevarra said Friday that of the 1,914 heinous crime convicts freed through the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law, 1,717 have already turned themselves in as of 11 p.m. of Sept.19.
The remaining convicts, Guevarra said, were in a “gray area” because they did not know if they were really convicted for heinous crimes.
“We want to make sure that those remaining are actually people that need to be arrested,” the Justice secretary said.
“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 [prisoners], but even the law enforcement agents,” he added.
Guevarra’s call came as his department said a total of 2,009 convicts surrendered before the Sept. 19 deadline expired—even more than the targeted 1,914.
READ: Duterte sets ultimatum vs. convicts
“The total number of individuals who have surrendered to authorities is at 2,009,” Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said.
Perete said that of the number, 1,773 are now in the custody of Bureau of Corrections and 236 with the Philippine National Police.
He said those in the custody of the BuCor are housed at the minimum security facility at the New Bilibid Prison.
But the DOJ spokesman admitted that the 2,009 surrenderers is more than the original list provided by the BuCor, which named 1,914 convicts who have been released since 2013 due to the GCTA.
Perete said the cases of those who surrendered are being evaluated by the Bureau of Corrections and by the Department of Justice.
“If it becomes apparent that these individuals are to be excluded from the list then they would be released immediately,” he said.
Perete said the DOJ and BuCor are also determining if there are also still other persons who have not surrendered.
Perete said that there are also inmates who have been allowed to go, but refused to leave.
“Some, after verification that they are excluded from the original list, they were asked by the Bureau of Corrections to leave the premises. However, they refused to do so because they were asking for certification from the Bureau of Corrections that they will no longer be the subject of rearrest,” he said.
“Pending the issuance of that certification, they insisted that they remain inside the Bureau of Corrections which is understandable. We want to expedite the process so they can be released immediately,” he added.
Perete admitted that the list of 1,914 released convicts is flawed and, because of this, the BuCor is currently making a “cleaned up” list.
“We are also cleaning up the list of those who have not yet surrendered but who have committed heinous crimes and should be excluded from the benefit of 10592,” he said.
A tracker team from the Quezon City Police District tried to rearrest road rage killer Rolito Go in his home but was told he was not home.
A few hours later, the Department of Justice said Go was released after serving his prison term, and not through the GCTA Law.
Go’s name was in the list of those ordered to be rearrested.
The department, however, said Go had served time at the New Bilibid Prison following his 1993 conviction for killing of De La Salle University student Eldon Maguan in 1991 due to a traffic altercation in San Juan.
Go was released on Dec. 16, 2016 after the Supreme Court ordered his release, saying he had already served his sentence by Aug. 21, 2018.
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