MANILA - Malacañang on Saturday said it was not blaming detained Sen. Leila de Lima and the previous administration for the "fiasco" caused by the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, which was signed by former President Benigno Aquino III in 2013.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he was "just stating the facts" about the law.
"The President and this representation are not blaming the previous administration and Senator Leila de Lima, who was its Secretary of Justice, for the mess in the implementation of Republic Act No. 10592, particularly with respect to the provisions governing the good conduct time allowance for persons deprived of liberty (PDLs)," Panelo said.
Republic Act No. 10592 contains provisions for the GCTA, which entitles convicts to early release based on good conduct.
It courted controversy over the release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts since 2013, and the near freedom of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted of the 1993 rape-slay of college student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez.
Panelo had represented Sanchez during the closely followed trial.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday fired Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon over the matter and gave the convicts 15 days to return to prison or face warrantless arrest.
"The people are blaming the officials of this Administration for the GCTA fiasco. As for us, we would rather advise Senator de Lima to look in the mirror and ask herself who to blame for the same," Panelo said.
Last Tuesday, Panelo said that if there was anyone to blame for the implementation of the GCTA, it should be the Aquino administration since the law's implementing rules and regulations was penned by then Justice Secretary De Lima and former Secretary Mar Roxas, who was President Rodrigo Duterte's rival during the May 2016 presidential race.
The spokesman reiterated this last Thursday, saying De Lima had crafted implementing rules and regulations that deviated from the intent of the law.
"The facts remain clear and uncontroverted," Panelo said.
De Lima, one of staunchest critics of Duterte and his allies, previously lashed out at Panelo's statements, saying she and the past administration are always the government's scapegoat when the going gets bad.
"Sa oras ng laglagan sa Administrasyong Duterte, iisa lamang ang palaging palusot ng mga opisyales nito, ang ituro ang nakaraang Administrasyong Aquino... Ang kakapal ng mga apog nila!" De Lima said in a statement.
(In the time of finger-pointing in the Duterte Administration, its officials had just one excuse: to blame the previous Aquino Administration. They're shameless.)
- With a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News