Jail pass for sale? Lawmaker wants strict enforcement, not suspension, of GCTA law

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2019 11:23 AM | Updated as of Aug 28 2019 03:07 PM

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MANILA - A party-list lawmaker on Wednesday said he is against the suspension of a law that provides for the early release of prisoners based on good behavior.

AKO Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., said the law only needs to be strictly enforced to ensure that only those truly eligible would benefit from it.

"We just want to strictly implement the provisions of Republic Act 10592. We don't call for its suspension. In the same way that we don't want an exodus of inmates that are not eligible under the GCTA (Good Conduct Time Allowance)," Garbin said on ANC's Headstart.

On Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon said they agree with the Department of Justice’s move to inform the Supreme Court of its plan to suspend the processing of applications for GCTA of convicts.

"This is a good law. Our criminal justice system is really designed to rehabilitate, to extend help and not to punish and therefore it must be properly implemented and only benefit those eligible inmates," he said.

Garbin said a congressional hearing on the GCTA is set to take place on September 3.
 
RA 10592 was passed in 2013 under then President Benigno Aquino III, in a bid to decongest prisons and give a second chance to reformed convicts. The Supreme Court ruled in June that it should be applied to prison sentences given even prior to the law’s passage.

However, news of rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez’s possible release as a result of the law has caused outrage, with many sectors saying the former mayor does not deserve a reduced prison term because of various infractions while in detention at the national penitentiary.

"For inmates to be released based on the GCTA benefits there must first be a factual basis or there must be determination that will be based on two factual determinations before an analytical computation can be applied. Mukhang hindi man lang tiningnan 'yung factual determination as provided for under the IRR of the GCTA law," said Garbin.

Among the areas that they want clarifications are on the management, selection and evaluation of inmates who would qualify for good conduct time allowance.

"Doon, gusto nating malaman kung anong proseso ginagawa nila, ano ba 'yung evaluation and screening process na inaadopt nila and how do they consider good conduct and behavior that will lead sa pagkakabawas ng pagkakapreso while serving sentence of persons deprieved of liberty," he said.

Garbin said they also want to know how good behavior is computed.

"Kino-compute ba ito on good behavior o sa agam-agam ng iba na GCTA is now for sale? Sana naman hindi," he said.

Among those expected to be invited to the hearing are officials from the justice department and Bureau of Corrections and even those involved in the crafting of the GCTA law.

Families of the victims and even relatives of Sanchez may also be invited.