MANILA - Criminal and administrative complaints should be filed against officials of the Bureau of Corrections over the “erroneous” release of heinous crimes convicts based on a 2013 law that expanded good conduct credits, a party-list representative said Tuesday.
The House of Representatives and Senate are looking into the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, following reports that it could set free Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna convicted in a 1990s rape and murder case that was among the most followed in the country.
The BuCor should submit a list of officials comprising its Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee, which handled GCTA applications, Pwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Jonas Nograles recommended to the House justice committee.
“If they erroneously recommended, then that erroneous recommendation of Persons Deprived of Liberty who are guilty of heinous crimes should be subject to criminal and administrative complaints,” he said.
Some 1,914 heinous crime convicts have been freed due to the GCTA law since 2014, BuCor records earlier showed.
BuCor Director Nicanor Faeldon admitted Monday he signed a memorandum recommending Sanchez's freedom, but said he stopped the release process for the convict "because I believe he is not entitled."
No high-ranking official involved in the GCTA attended the House's organizational meeting into the issue, which prompted Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Sato to call for subpoenas.
Justice committee chair Rep. Ching Veloso, however, said subpoenas should be issued at the "proper time", noting that the Senate has an ongoing inquiry on GCTA.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, meanwhile, branded the release of heinous crime convicts under Faeldon as "virtually a massive jailbreak, but this time with the conspiracy and consent of prison officials."
He also argued that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra lacks authority to suspend the implementation the GCTA to give way to a review.
“His responsibility is to fully implement the law with respect to the fact that convicts of heinous offenses should have been excluded, but he cannot have the authority to suspend the entirety of the law,” Lagman said.
DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco said the suspension is only for a brief period of time, which is supposed to iron out systems within the BuCor for the faster implementation of the law.
“The secretary promised that it will only be suspended for 10 days,” Marco said.
Cagayan De Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez urged the justice department to release the names of all convicts released under GCTA, amid concerns from families of victims of heinous crimes.
“We follow the Constitution, the right of the people to information, the Bucor should therefore immediately release the names,” Rodriguez said.
Congressmen also agreed that the law should be clearer on the exclusion of heinous crimes convicts.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin also said the law should be amended to include harsher GCTA provisions when an inmate commits violations while in prison.
“Halimbawa, pumatay ako ng sampu sa kulungan, pumasok ako ng droga isang kilo, dalawang kilo, nang-rape ako sa kulungan, at suspended lang that month, that is really absurd,” Garbin said.