Drilon warns of proposal to amend GCTA law

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2019 06:56 PM

MANILA - Minority Sen. Franklin Drilon on Tuesday warned against amending a law that increased the “good conduct time allowance” for convicts, saying this might be exploited by rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez to walk free earlier than what his prison sentence dictates.

Drilon, justice secretary at the time Sanchez was being tried for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines Los Baños student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez, said amending the law would have negative implications.

“An amendment which will say that those who are guilty of heinous offenses may not avail of the GCTA may imply that to date, he is entitled to it,” Drilon explained during Tuesday’s Senate session.

“If you do that, Mr. Sanchez can claim that that cannot apply to him because it will have the nature of an ex-post facto legislation.”

Last week, the justice department announced that Sanchez might be released from imprisonment because of a 2013 law which increased the GCTA.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra later backpedaled, following public outrage, saying Sanchez was not qualified for GCTA since he was convicted of heinous crimes.

The confusion and differing interpretations of the law, Republic Act 10592, prompted calls to amend it.

But Drilon said it would be more prudent to attack the basis of Sanchez’s qualification to avail of GCTA.

Sen. Sonny Angara, meanwhile, suggested that the implementing rules and regulations and the manual on the law be revisited to ensure that the GCTA would not be abused by underserving convicts.

Sen. Richard Gordon, for his part, suggested that the country’s corrections bureau and other penal management agencies establish an electronic database that would keep the records of convicts. That way, it would be easier to check on a convict's status and determine whether he may have already been an "overstaying" prisoner.

RA 10592 was passed in 2013 under then President Benigno Aquino III, in a bid to decongest prisons and give second chance to reformed convicts. The SC ruled in June that it should be applied to prison sentences given even prior to the law’s passage.

News of Sanchez’s possible release outraged the public and various government officials, who say the former Calauan City, Laguna mayor does not deserve a reduced prison term because of various infractions while in detention at the national penitentiary.