House eyes amendments to GCTA law: Nograles

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2019 11:33 AM

MANILA - The House of Representatives is planning to conduct its own set of hearings into the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) mess and introduce possible amendments to improve the law, Rizal congressman Fidel Nograles said Friday.

"We just need to amend the GCTA law to avoid absurdity, to avoid confusion and to provide standards as well for good conduct," Nograles said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

The House Assistant Majority Leader said the source of the confusion is Article 29 versus Article 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the GCTA law with regard to the scope of application.

"Because in Article 29, which speaks of credit for preventive imprisonment has certain exclusions which are not found in Article 97," Nograles said. The lawmaker is also the vice chair of the House Committee on Justice.

The exclusions under Art. 29 which Nograles was referring to are habitual delinquents, escapees, persons charged with heinous crimes and recidivists.

"The conflicting part, these exclusions are not found in Art. 97 of the Revised Penal Code as amended by the GCTA because all that we can find in Art. 97 is that persons who are entitled to credits for preventive imprisonment and persons convicted by final judgement and detained in penal institutions.

Nograles said lawmakers are looking at reconciling the two articles that don't match.

"You have to reconcile because you have to harmonize the two provisions such as to give effect to all of the provisions of the law so there has to be specific exclusions, specifically in Art. 29, you need to adopt these exclusions on Art. 97 as well in order to avoid confusion," he explained.

Nograles said the second amendment is the need to adopt a definition of heinous crimes.

"Persons convicted of heinous crimes should not be entitled to the GCTA, and we also need to adopt a definition of heinous crimes," he said.

He proposed to use the definition of heinous crimes in the death penalty law which is "grievous, odious, hateful offenses of such monstrosity as to spark public outrage", examples of which would be murder, rape, kidnapping, and dangerous drugs.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee is conducting its series of hearings into the GCTA mess.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would sack all officials and personnel of the Bureau of Corrections involved in the release of heinous crime convicts under the GCTA law.

The GCTA law has been under public criticism and official scrutiny after nearly 2,000 heinous-crime convicts were reported released since 2014.