MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday ordered heinous-crime convicts who were freed under a law that reduces an inmate’s sentence due to good conduct to surrender to authorities.
The President gave the convicts 15 days to surrender.
“I would address myself ‘yung lahat nakulong at na-release sa batas na ito, 1,700 of you, you surrender and have yourself registered with the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections),” he said Wednesday.
“I will give you 15 days liberty, provided you make yourself available anytime that you will be called for investigation to have a recomputation, or if there’s an investigation of corruption that you cooperate fully.”
If the freed convicts refuse to surrender, Duterte said the government would consider them fugitives.
“And you will be treated as a criminal who is evading the law and, well, you know things can go wrong. If I were you, mag-surrender na kayo to the nearest police or military detachment wherever you are now,” he said.
Convicts who will "surrender in good faith" will not be sent back to prison "because there was really a release order,” Duterte said as he requested them to help in the probe on the anomalies in the implementation of the GCTA.
Data from the Bureau of Corrections showed that 1,914 heinous-crime convicts were released through the good conduct time allowance law since 2014.
The implementation of Republic Act 10592, which increases the “good conduct time allowance” of prisoners, has come under scrutiny after the justice department announced that convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez might be released from prison because of supposed good behavior.
Duterte also offered a P1 million bounty per heinous crime convict who refuses to surrender.
Asked for a specific law for the rearrest order, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said "basis for rearrest is not a law but jurisprudence, which forms part of the law of the land."
A 2018 Supreme Court decision also held that the power to issue hold departure order is inherent to the courts and not to an executive agency like the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“[T]he liberty of abode may only be impaired by a lawful order of the court and, on the one hand, the right to travel may only be impaired by a law that concerns national security, public safety or public health. Therefore, when the exigencies of times call for a limitation on the right to travel, the Congress must respond to the need by explicitly providing for the restriction in a law,” the high court said in Genuino v. De Lima.—With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News