MANILA – The Bureau of Corrections will begin to release on Thursday prisoners who surrendered to authorities under President Rodrigo Duterte's ultimatum for heinous-crime convicts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
As of Wednesday, “at least 25 are sure to go” although more are expected to be set free Thursday, according to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“We really hope that it could have been earlier pero (but) to be very frank medyo hindi maayos ang record-keeping ng BuCor (BuCor’s records are not so well-organized) so we do not want to commit mistakes here at the expense of using up more time,” he told reporters.
Among those who will be released were those granted executive clemency, pardon and parole, although the justice chief could not say yet how many will be released.
The DOJ is still verifying the list of prisoners prematurely released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law and hopes to come up with a thoroughly vetted list by the end of the month.
As of Monday morning, 2,221 released prisoners have surrendered or more than the 1,914 prematurely released prisoners on BuCor’s initial list.
Guevarra said the additional 300 added to the burden of checking the records of the surrenderers, which prompted him to send prosecutors to help check their records.
“This is a job that should have been done by the BuCor but ang problema nga, mga na-suspend ’yung karamihan sa kanila so kailangan pumasok ang DOJ kasi in the end baka kami ang masisi sasabihin na kayong mother agency kayong may administrative supervision kaya meron kayong baka matawag na command responsibility although hindi naman talaga ganon,” he explained.
(This is the job that should have been done by the BuCor but the problem is, most of them were suspended so the DOJ had to step in or else we might be blamed as the mother agency exercising administrative supervision for command responsibility, which isn’t really the case.)
Guevarra had repeatedly cited the passage of a law in 2013 granting BuCor more autonomy, limiting the DOJ’s role to administrative supervision.
“Had we exercised closer supervision over the BuCor, we could have found out that this is what's happening. We are quite complacent that things were going smoothly. Why? Because nobody's complaining,” he said.
The possible early release of former mayor Antonio Sanchez, a convicted rapist and killer, had put the GCTA issue under the spotlight.
The Office of the Ombudsman has placed 30 BuCor personnel on preventive suspension as a result of the GCTA mess.
Guevarra said that with the revised implementing rules and regulations of the GCTA law in effect next week, he hopes the BuCor will make the proper computation of the grant of GCTAs.