MANILA (UPDATE) - Two of three convicts in the 1997 rape-slay of sisters Jacqueline and Marijoy Chiong have surrendered to authorities following their early release last month, a justice official said Saturday.
Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco said convicts Ariel Balansag and Alberto Caño have come forward. They surrendered Friday night and are back at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City, police said.
The two came forward amid President Rodrigo Duterte's 15-day ultimatum issued Wednesday for heinous crime convicts released on good conduct credits to surrender.
The third convict, Josman Aznar, may be expected to surrender in the coming week, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
Convicts Balansag, Caño and Aznar, were released through a memorandum dated Aug. 16, which said they were found to have “served 40 years upon retroactive application of RA No. 10592 and was certified to have no other legal cause to be further detained.”
RA No. 10592, or the expanded good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, has led to the release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts since its enactment in 2013.
It is the under the same controversial law that rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez, a former Calauan, Laguna mayor, was nearly released, if not for uproar from the public and families of his victims Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez.
The law has prompted legislative inquiries, while the justice and interior departments have suspended processing early release applications pending a review of the GCTA.
The Chiong sisters' mother Thelma Chiong earlier called the 3 convicts' early release as an "injustice" and appealed for their immediate rearrest.
Four others were convicted of the crime: Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, a great-grandson of the late President Sergio Osmeña Sr.; Rowen Adlawan, James Andrew Uy, and Uy’s brother who was a minor at that time.
Larrañaga, a Spanish citizen, is serving his sentence in Spain and continues to assert innocence.
- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News