Bersamin confirms SC seeks respondents' comment on petition vs. revised GCTA rules

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 03 2019 10:47 PM

MANILA – Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Thursday confirmed the Supreme Court (SC) en banc has required respondents in the petition questioning the validity of the revised implementing rules and regulations of RA 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law to file their comments to the petition within 10 days.
Eight inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) filed on September 24 the first petition assailing the legality and constitutionality of certain provisions of the revised IRR.

Among these provisions are sections excluding recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) charged or convicted of heinous crimes from the benefit of GCTA, time allowance for study, teaching and mentoring (TASTM), and special time allowance for loyalty (STAL), which they claimed went “beyond the law” and are “tantamount to executive legislation” because these exclusions were not on the text of the law itself.

They also question the retroactive application of these exclusions to those awaiting their sentence.

The inmates also want to declare void the transitory provisions creating a distinction between those who have been detained or started serving their sentence before and those after the effectivity of RA 10592 as violative of the equal protection clause and the provision of the Revised Penal Code mandating retroactive application of a penal law if favorable to the accused.

Under the IRR, a disqualified PDL who has been detained or has started serving his sentence before RA 10592 took effect can still enjoy the GCTA granted not under the new law but under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) while those detained or sentenced after will no longer gain any time allowance credits whether under the RPC or the new law.
They also asked the BuCor and BJMP to recompute their GCTA and order their immediate release from prison.

Named as respondents were Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag and Bureau of Jail Managaement and Penology chief Allan Sullano Iral.

Guevarra welcomed the order saying he is confident the DOJ’s new interpretation of the GCTA law will be sustained.

The BuCor and the DOJ were forced to abandon their old interpretation of the expanded GCTA law which did not exclude heinous crime convicts from the grant of time allowances following public uproar over the possible release of convicted rapist and murderer former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.