MANILA - Only 1 foreign national freed on good conduct credits has left the country, the justice department said Wednesday, as lawmakers investigated the scheme due to legality questions.
President Rodrigo Duterte last week gave 15 days for hundreds of heinous crime convicts freed due to good conduct time allowance (GCTA) to surrender to authorities.
"One has left because of a deportation order issued by the Bureau of Immigration and this was reported to the Senate already," Justice Spokesperson and Undersecretary Markk Perete told radio DZMM.
The foreign national was not among the 4 Chinese drug lords recently freed due to GCTA, Perete said, adding that he has to double check the criminal charge for which the prisoner was convicted.
The whereabouts of around 128 convicts, including those who have the same names, are still "subject to verification by the GCTA," added Perete.
About 130 prisoners have surrendered to authorities, he said.
Duterte's deadline for the surrender expires "sometime next week," the official said.
Those who were first to surrender will also be the first to have their GCTA re-evaluated and will be "released immediately" if everything is in order, said Perete.
The 2013 law that expanded the GCTA disqualifies recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes, but this is not stated in the measure's implementing rules and regulations, Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier said.
The GCTA spawned a Senate inquiry following reports that it might free Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor convicted in a highly followed 1990s rape-murder case.
The justice and interior departments last week suspended the processing of GCTA applications to give way to a review, the results of which will be completed "either today or tomorrow," said Perete.