MANILA - More than 500 heinous crime convicts have been returned to the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Saturday, 5 days before the lapse of President Rodrigo Duterte's 15-day ultimatum for the surrender of prisoners released early on good conduct.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said a total of 505 prisoners have turned themselves in. The deadline for the surrender is on Sept. 19.
Earlier Saturday, the Philippine National Police said 391 convicts surrendered to police stations across the country, and that 249 of them have been turned over to the BuCor.
At dawn on Saturday, police officers from Alaminos, Laguna, picked up a 77-year-old murder convict in Norzagaray, Bulacan who wanted to surrender after he was released on good conduct credits.
The man was released in May after serving some 30 years at the New Bilibid Prison. By noon Saturday, he was back at the state penitentiary.
Duterte on Sept. 4 ordered the return of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts, including rapists, murders and drug violators, released early as the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) policy does not cover prisoners with such grievous offenses.
He gave the prisoners 15 days to surrender or else face warrantless arrest. The Philippine National Police said it could use force in case the convicts resist arrest.
Also on Saturday, National Capital Region Police Office chief Guillermo Eleazar said Metro Manila police would launch manhunt operations following the deadline.
There are 202 convicts known to reside in Metro Manila, he said, but this is based on an unofficial list.
The Senate is investigating the GCTA policy after the irregular release of heinous crime convicts. Witnesses have also surfaced alleging that BuCor officials were selling good conduct credits and hospital passes to inmates who are not ill but want to leave prison.