MANILA - Philippine National Police chief Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde on Thursday said police officers "can use force" if they encounter resistance from convicts ordered rearrested after their early release on account of supposed good conduct.
Albayalde also called on prisoners released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law since 2013 to surface within 15 days or else become the subject of warrantless arrest.
The PNP, he said, is seeking the list of the released inmates from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), whose records earlier showed some 2,000 heinous crime convicts have been released since the expanded GCTA law was signed in 2013.
President Rodrigo Duterte had said Wednesday some 1,700 prisoners - a figure that BuCor data showed were released under his administration- should be taken back to the penitentiary.
More than 400 others were, meanwhile, released during the Aquino administration under the GCTA.
Albayalde said release orders given the prisoners were "void ab initio" or invalid upon issuance.
PNP spokesperson Bernard Banac, meanwhile, said earlier Thursday that the GCTA grantees would not be shot at first sight.
"Hindi naman ganoon ang turing natin sa kanila, na talagang babarilin na lang 'pag nakita natin," said PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac told ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."
(They won't be treated like that, that we will just shoot them once we see them.)
"'Wag po kayong matakot, 'wag mangamba, 'wag mabahala. Lahat po kayo ay welcome na dumulog sa ating mga tanggapan," he added.
(Don't be scared, don't worry. You are all welcome to report to our offices.)
Duterte on Wednesday said he would offer a P1-million bounty "per head, dead or alive" to take back heinous crime convicts if they fail to surrender to authorities within 15 days.
The President gave the order amid controversy surrounding the early release of convicts under the good conduct time allowance law, which has triggered Senate and House inquiries.
Banac said during the 15-day grace period, the inmates should report their current addresses to the nearest police station while the PNP awaits orders on how to turn them over to the Bureau of Corrections.
The inmates will then be considered fugitives after the lapse of this period and can be arrested without warrant, he said.
The expanded GCTA law came under scrutiny following reports that it might benefit Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor of Calauan, Laguna convicted in the 1993 rape-slay of college student Eileen Sarmenta and killing of her companion Allan Gomez.
Duterte on Wednesday fired BuCor Director Nicanor Faeldon after he told a Senate inquiry that he signed a memorandum recommending Sanchez's early release, which he said he stopped "because I believe he is not entitled."
Sanchez was sentenced in 1995 to 7 reclusion perpetua terms (40 years each term).
Faeldon said he also signed last month release orders for 3 men convicted in the 1997 rape-slay of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong.