Trying to make sense of things
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?*