DOJ, DILG suspend convicts' early release applications amid system review

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 29 2019 04:31 PM | Updated as of Aug 29 2019 06:24 PM

The New Bilibid Prison Facility in Muntinlupa City on August 21, 2019. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The justice and interior departments on Thursday created a committee to review the good conduct credits system that would grant prisoners early release. 

This, amid public outcry over the possibility that it may benefit rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez, a former Calauan, Laguna mayor sentenced to 7 reclusion perpetua terms (40 years each term) over the 1993 rape and killing of Eileen Sarmenta and death of her companion Allan Gomez. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a joint order, directed the committee to review the computation of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) under the Revised Penal Code, and submit its report within 10 working days. 

Guevarra and Año also suspended the processing of GCTA applications pending the committee's report. 

The committee will be chaired by a justice undersecretary and co-chaired by an interior undersecretary. Its members shall include Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Director Allan Iral, among others, according to the order. 

The Revised Penal Code signed in 2013 expanded the application of the GCTA to include detention time and increased the number of days that may be credited for good conduct. 

Guevarra had said Sanchez might be released early because of a GCTA grant, drawing uproar from the public and the victims' families. He later backtracked, saying Sanchez may not be qualified since he was convicted of heinous crimes.

Faeldon also cited Sanchez's jail violations, including being caught in possession of illegal drugs, in saying he may not be eligible for the early release grant.