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Task force to review convicts’ GCTA rules

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The Department of Justice has formed a task force to review guidelines for processing the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) granted to inmates following the public outcry over suggestions that convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez might be released early for good behavior.

READ: Palace bucks public outcry over Sanchez release plan

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the task force will be composed of prison authorities and will be given 10 days to review the guidelines.

The task force will also ask the Bureau of Corrections for a list of inmates that have already been released as a consequence of reduced sentences because of GCTAs.

“Should there be any sign of fraud or irregularity, I will order a separate probe,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

BuCor earlier said about 200 inmates have been released on the basis of reduced sentences after being awarded GCTA credits.

GCTAs are provided for by Republic Act No. 10592, a 2013 law that amends a number of provisions of the Revised Penal Code on time allowances and credit for preventive imprisonment of inmates.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the GCTA law should be applied retroactively, or even on cases that took place before the enactment of the measure. This led to the BuCor processing GCTAs that may be granted to thousands of inmates who have been detained since the 1990s, including Sanchez.

But Guevarra said Monday that Malacañang has requested that the DOJ hold the processing of Sanchez’s case until all the factual and legal issues involved have been threshed out.

Malacañang has taken the position that Sanchez should be excluded from the grant of GCTAs because he was convicted of “heinous crimes.”

Others have said the grant of time allowances to the former Calauan, Laguna mayor should be based on whether or not he showed “good conduct” in prison.

Sanchez had been charged with possession of illegal drugs while behind bars.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it is leaving it up to the Executive department, particularly the Department of Justice, how to implement RA 10592.

In a chance interview during the launching of the new Judicial and Bar Council website and online application scheduler on Tuesday, Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin said it would be up to the DOJ to thresh out the guidelines for the implementation of its ruling.

Bersamin declined to comment on questions of Sanchez’s eligibility for GCTA credits.

READ: Palace: Sanchez ‘not eligible’ for release, Duterte ‘furious’

The DOJ earlier said Sanchez is one of the more than 10,000 prisoners who may be released due to the shortening of prison terms as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

READ: Ex-mayor may gain freedom on ‘good conduct’

However, Guevarra was forced to suspend the implementation of the new GCTA law following a public outcry against Sanchez’x possible release.

Bersamin also said it would be up to the DOJ whether or not to apply its ruling on those convicted of heinous crimes.

Guevarra earlier said recidivists, escapees, habitual delinquents and persons charged with heinous crimes are not qualified for GCTA credits under RA 10592.

On June 25, 2019, the Court said the law should be implemented retroactively.

R.A. 10592, enacted in May 2013, amended several provisions in the Revised Penal Code and authorized the credit of preventive imprisonment and revision of good conduct time allowance of persons deprived of liberty.

The law expanded the application of GCTA for prisoners even during preventive suspension, increased the number of days for GCTA, allowed additional deduction of 15 days each month of for time allowance for study, teaching or mentoring service, and expanded the special time allowance for loyalty even during preventive suspension.

The SC held that the ruling would help decongest jails and result in a substantial reduction in prison terms.

Also on Tuesday, a lone gunman shot and killed a Bureau of Corrections official in Muntinlupa City, police said.

Muntinlupa City Station police chief Gerardo Umayao identified the victim as 53-year-old Ruperto Traya Jr., a chief administrative officer 3 assigned at the New Bilibid Prison.

Police said the incident happened at a parking lot near Amparo Street in Barangay Poblacion at about 1 p.m.

Initial investigation showed that Traya was about to park his motorcycle when the gunman on board a motorcycle appeared and shot him in the head. The victim died on the spot and the assailant fled the scene. With Joel E. Zurbano

READ: Duterte stops Sanchez release


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