Thirteen convicts who testified against Senator Leila de Lima on alleged drug charges could go free under the same rule that will allegedly allow convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez to walk free for good behavior while in prison.
Speaking to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said: "Everyone imprisoned by final judgment before 2013 is entitled to a recomputation of GCTAs (good conduct time allowance) earned, if any."
"If the subject convicts qualify for a reduced sentence due to GCTA and they have actually served it, they too will be released."
He added: "If they are released because they have served their reduced sentence, that's for good. No need for parole. The reduced sentence is a reward for good conduct, not for any other reason.
Republic Act No. 10592, which was passed during the term of President Benigno Aquino III, increases the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) given to inmates. It also amended Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code to allow the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and/or the Warden of a provincial, district, municipal or city jail to grant allowances for good conduct.
"Such allowances once granted shall not be revoked," the amendment read.
Several groups have questioned the impending release of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez who was convicted of the gruesome rape and murder of a young university student in 1993 and sentenced to 7 life terms.
Questions were raised over how he could qualify for good conduct when he was caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu hidden in a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his cell at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City in 2010.
Justice Secretary Guevarra earlier explained that prison records on good conduct of inmates had been in existence before the Supreme Court issued its ruling on retroactivity of GCTAs (good conduct time allowances) last June.
"The matter of computation of GCTAs is therefore purely ministerial,” he said.
He clarified Sanchez will just be one of thousands to benefit from the implementation of the law. He said BuCor is processing cases starting 1993.
BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon said around 200 inmates could be released per day.
They also said they are looking at thousands of inmates who might be released in the next 2 months.
CONVICTED CRIMINALS TURNED WITNESSES
De Lima earlier moved for the disqualification of 13 prosecution witnesses in the “conspiracy to trade illegal drugs” case filed against her before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206.
De Lima’s legal counsel Teddy Esteban Rigoroso argued that 13 of the prosecution’s witnesses have all been convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude" and are currently serving the penalty of reclusion perpetua, making them unfit to be admitted as state witnesses.
Based on cases decided by the Supreme Court, moral turpitude refers to “an act of baseness, vileness or depravity” that “gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community…”
Named in the motion were:
- Nonilo Arile, convicted for murder and kidnapping
- Jojo Baligad, convicted for murder
- Herbert Colanggo, convicted for robbery with homicide
- Engelberto Durano, convicted for frustrated murder and murder
- Rodolfo Magleo, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
- Vicente Sy, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Hans Tan, convicted for robbery and direct assault with murder
- Froilan Trestiza, convicted for kidnapping
- Peter Co, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Noel Martinez, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
- Joel Capones, convicted for homicide
- German Agojo, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of
methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Jaime Patcho, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
“The above-enumerated State Witnesses of the Prosecution have all been already convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. They are therefore disqualified from being State Witnesses and from being granted immunity under Sections 10 and 12 of RA 6981. Their exclusion from the information is therefore illegal and without basis. Even if they testify, they cannot avail of the immunity that was grated illegally and that is void ab initio,” the motion said.