Try­ing to make sense of things

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

I’

M CON­FUSED.

When Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is­sued his ul­ti­ma­tum on Wed­nes­day, Sept. 4, 2019, or­der­ing all con­victs who were re­leased for good be­hav­ior un­der the good con­duct time al­lowance (GCTA) sys­tem to sur­ren­der, did he mean ev­ery­one who has been re­leased since Repub­lic Act (RA) 10592 took ef­fect five years ago?

What about those who were ac­tu­ally set free be­cause they qual­i­fied and had com­plied with all the re­quire­ments? In other words, their re­lease was le­git. Are they also cov­ered by his ul­ti­ma­tum?

At first, I thought the law was clear. Re­cidi­vists, ha­bit­ual delin­quents, es­capees and those who were con­victed of heinous crimes are not cov­ered. Then I find out about RA 10592’s Im­ple­ment­ing Rules and Reg­u­la­tions that say oth­er­wise.

Palace spokesman Sal­vador Panelo was em­phatic. Re­cidi­vists, ha­bit­ual delin­quents, es­capees and those who were con­victed of heinous crimes who took ad­van­tage of the GCTA law, he de­clared, should be sent back to jail un­til they serve the full term of their ser­vice. It may take a court or­der to re-ar­rest them, though, but that’s what he said.

But what about the Pres­i­dent’s ul­ti­ma­tum? With­out a court or­der, the gov­ern­ment can’t well go af­ter these “fugi­tives.” Not legally, any­way. At least, that’s my un­der­stand­ing of Panelo’s wise words.

I guess I’ll just have to wait for lawyers to do the ex­plain­ing. Hope­fully in a lan­guage that ev­ery­one can un­der­stand.

Mean­while, I still have many ques­tions.

What about in­mates who were not con­victed of mur­der, rape, drugs, kid­nap­ping, par­ri­cide, ar­son and bribery who were re­leased un­der the GCTA law in the last five years?

They have noth­ing to worry about, right? They’ll be okay? They won’t wake up 15 days from Wed­nes­day with a P1 mil­lion bounty on their head?

Be­cause, let’s face it, a man do­ing time for pick­ing pock­ets or for bur­glary can­not be in the same league as, say, for­mer Calauan, La­guna mayor An­to­nio Sanchez who was sen­tenced to seven terms of reclu­sion per­petua (40 years per term) for the rape of col­lege stu­dent Eileen Sar­menta and the mur­der of her boyfriend, Al­lan Gomez, in 1993, and an ad­di­tional dou­ble life term given by the Supreme Court for a dif­fer­ent case.

That would be un­fair to some­one who was placed be­hind bars for ex­pos­ing him­self in pub­lic or for steal­ing a car.

But get this, here’s what Duterte ac­tu­ally said: “La­hat ng naku­long at na-re­lease sa batas na ito (All in­mates re­leased be­cause of the law)... you sur­ren­der and have your­self reg­is­tered with Bucor (Bureau of Correction­s).”

I guess he’s or­der­ing all freed heinous-crime con­victs to re­port to Bucor and reg­is­ter.

But what then? What will hap­pen to them af­ter­wards? Will they spend the rest of their lives rot­ting in jail, as they should, or shall the Filipino pub­lic just charge the whole thing to ex­pe­ri­ence?*

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