MANILA — Around 800 heinous crime convicts were granted early release from prison in the first 8 months of this year under a law that expanded good conduct credits, a lawmaker said Monday.
The group was among a total of about 3,700 prisoners that walked free this year due to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, just a little below the 3,800 convicts who enjoyed the privilege last year, said PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles.
"Napakabilis po ng rate ng pagpapalaya ng mga bilanggo (the rate of release of prisoners is too fast)," he told radio DZMM.
The Senate on Monday started its investigation into GCTA's implementation following reports that it could benefit Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna convicted for rape and murder in a 1990s crime that was among the most-followed in the country.
Nograles said his request for the names of some 22,000 convicts freed under CGTA since 2014 was denied by the Bureau of Corrections, which cited their right to privacy.
"Hindi naman po iyang magandang palusot dahil ito'y (that is not a good excuse because that is) freedom of information," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also said the list of freed prisoners should be released because it is a public record.
This, he said, will not be different from the justice department's policy of publishing the names of convicts seeking pardon, which allows victims to oppose their move.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee can subpoena BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon if he skips Monday's Senate hearing, said Drilon.
"Kung magno-no show s'ya malaking malaking problema n'ya," added Blue Ribbon chairperson Sen. Richard Gordon in a separate DZMM interview.
(He will have a big problem if he's a no-show.)
About 5 people are in charge of approving GCTA release applications, noted Gordon.
"Ang ayoko doon, sila-sila lang... E katabi nila iyun mga preso. Sa loob ng preso, some are more equal than others. Mayroong may mga cellphone, nagbabayad iyun, may TV," he said.
(What I don't like there is only they decide. They work beside prisoners. In the prison, some are more equal than others. There are some prisoners who have cellphones that they pay for, they have TVs.)
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Sanchez's adult children and the relatives of his alleged rape victims Aileen Sarmenta were invited to the hearing, he said.