Good conduct law 'susceptible to abuse' says lawmaker

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2019 09:10 AM | Updated as of Sep 02 2019 09:27 AM

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MANILA - The good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law must be revisited after 1,914 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes were granted early release since 2014, a lawmaker said Monday.

The GCTA shortens a convict's prison time based on good conduct.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, chairman of the House committee on justice, said the law was "susceptible to abuse."

"Good behavior is so generic that it requires more substantial definitions. I think it should be revisited," he told ANC's Early Edition.

"You have to be an angel to qualify, even littering is already a ground to exclude you from enjoying that GCTA."

Veloso said recording of inmates' good conduct should be done weekly instead of monthly, while defining offenses should be "more practical, more realistic."

The lawmaker also proposed for the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to tap religious sectors in helping reform inmates.

"I hope we can trust our religious people more, Muslim, Christians, Catholics. Ask help from them, volunteers that would work in tandem with our paid members in BuCor," he said.

"Let us clean the house so quickly those entitled to GCTA can benefit from it. It should be rehabilitative, reformative, not retributive because may pag-asa pa rin ang mga tao eh."

Veloso said the released convicts may be rearrested because the grant of freedom due to good conduct was allowed "only when it is lawfully justified."

"That’s the condition that applies both to grant and revocation. There is nothing to revoke if there is no lawful grant," he said.

Veloso said House of Representatives would look into the release of the convicts but has yet to schedule it due to budget hearings.

According to BuCor data, most of those released, 797 convicts were murderers, 758 were rapists, 274 committed robbery with violence or intimidation, 48 were drug convicts, 29 committed parricide, 5 were convicted of kidnapping with illegal detention, and 3 committed destructive arson. 

The Department of Justice and the Department of Interior and Local Government on Thursday suspended processing of GCTA applications amid a review of the rules.