MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Justice on Friday ordered a stop to re-arrests of heinous crime convicts who have allegedly been freed due to good conduct time allowance after spotting errors in the list of convicts submitted by the Bureau of Corrections.
Speaking to radio DZMM, DOJ spokesperson Undersecretary Markk Perete said the department has identified 40 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) that should not have been included in the GCTA list.
He said the 40 were already pardoned or paroled, and did not avail of the GCTA.
"We deemed it safe and prudent not to pursue any coercive law enforcement action at this time because we may unduly or unnecessarily endanger the life of not only the PDL but even the law enforcement agents," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in an ANC interview.
Perete said the arrests will resume after the list is cleaned up and the names verified. The Metro Manila police earlier said it will deploy tracker teams to pursue 176 convicts prematurely released under the GCTA law.
The implementation of Republic Act 10592, which increases the “good conduct time allowance” of prisoners, has come under scrutiny after the justice department announced that convicted rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez might be released from prison because of supposed good behavior.
The DOJ said a total of 1,950 surrenderers have turned themselves in after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered heinous crime convicts that were freed under the GCTA law to surrender before September 19.
BuCor data however showed that only 1,914 heinous-crime convicts were released through the GCTA law since 2014.
Guevarra said the BuCor's primary function will be to recompute the good conduct time allowance of returning PDLs to find out if they are included or excluded from the benefits of the 2013 GCTA law or not.
"If the BuCor, after recomputation, finds out even without the benefit of GCTA law of 2013 you have already served your sentence because of the good conduct time allowance under the Revised Penal Code, you are now free."
He added: "It's only really those who were improperly or prematurely released who have to complete the remaining part of their sentence."
He however said that they have not set a deadline for BuCor to complete the recomputation process.
"Because we still want to see how it will go. We're still feeling our way through. But definitely this is something that should be given top priority. We'll try to determine the amount of time that will be needed to process all of this," he said.
He added that BuCor officials involved in the GCTA mess were suspended by the Ombudsman.
"For that reason we are left with subordinates. That is one constraint were facing right now," he said.