DON'T look now. All prisoners who were freed after availing of the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) must return to prison as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to Duterte, that the released papers of the freed prisoners under the GCTA would be scrutinized.
“If the release papers are found in order, the prisoner would be finally freed,” Duterte said.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, of the second district of Cagayan De Oro, said that Duterte’s order covers all prisoners released from 2014 until 2019.
In an interview with CYNOSURE, Rodriguez said that it does not matter whether Duterte was elected President only in 2016.
“The fact that the President order ‘all’ prisoners who availed of the GCTA to return to prison means that Duterte’s order is retroactively at the time when the GCTA was implemented,” Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, one of the co-authors of Republic Act 10592, said that the law was approved in 2013 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) took effect in 2014.
Rodriguez said that the President’s order has been retroactive since the implementation of the Republic Act 10592, which became law in 2013 and the IRR, stating the provisions of the GCTA, in 2014.
Duterte issued the order to all prisoners who availed of the GCTA to return to prison after an uproar over the released of prisoners who were sentenced to life imprisonment with heinous crimes through the GCTA.
Duterte warned that the prisoners who failed to return by reporting to the nearest police station or military command after the 15-day “grace period” would become the subject of a police manhunt.
“They (prisoner) would be considered recidivist and a “shoot-to-kill” order might be meted against them,” Duterte said.
On the contrary, the police cannot simply arrest the prisoners who failed to return to the Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) without a warrant of arrest.
Rodriguez said that the police must secure a warrant of arrest from the court that sentenced the prisoner in order that the arrest would be legal.
One must remember that the prisoner who availed of the GCTA was released on the presumption that he (prisoner) was already freed and cleared of his sentence.
Rodriguez said that without an arrest order, the arresting officer could be held liable with an arbitrary arrest or illegal detention.
“The law enforcers must be careful in arresting those already freed because of the GCTA, otherwise, they (police) might face legal actions,” Rodriguez said.
Here is a backdropped of the now controversial RA 10592. On 26 March 2014, an IRR was jointly issued by the then Justice Secretary, Leila H. De Lima, and then DILG secretary Manuel A. Roxas II. However, Section 4, Rule 1 of the IRR directed the prospective application of the grant of good conduct time allowance (GCTA), time allowance for study, teaching, and mentoring (TASTM) and special time allowance for loyalty (STAL) to prisoners. ( www.abogado.com)
In declaring the IRR invalid, in so far as it provides for the prospective application of the grant of GCTA, TASTM, and STAL, the Supreme Court (SC) stated:
“While R.A. No. 10592 does not define a crime/offense or provide/prescribe a penalty as it addresses the rehabilitation component of our correctional system, its provisions have the purpose and effect of diminishing the punishment attached to the crime. The further reduction of the length of the penalty of imprisonment is, in the ultimate analysis, beneficial to the detention and convicted prisoners alike; hence, calls for the application of Article 22 of the RPC. Ibid.
Article 22 of the 1930 Revised Penal Code provides the Retroactive Effect of Penal Laws. — Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect in so far as they favor the person guilty of a felony, who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in rule 5 of article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same. https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph. -0-