MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sunday, August 25, hopes the Supreme Court or Congress will be able to clarify whether or not inmates who are convicted of heinous crimes benefit from the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
“The DOJ will be glad to have this issue resolved with clarity and finality either by a congressional amendment of its own act or by an interpretation rendered by the Supreme Court in a proper case brought before it,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
The statement comes after questions were raised over the processing of GCTAs in line with the possible early release of convicted murderer and rapist Antonio Sanchez. (READ: Can heinous crimes be excluded from good conduct time allowance law?)
He and his accomplices were meted 7 terms of reclusion perpetua for the 1993 rape-slay case of University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) student Mary Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of her companion Allan Gomez, also a UPLB student.
The possible early release was brought about through the implementation of the GCTA law. Signed in 2013, the law allows for deduction of sentences, depending on how well they abide by rules and regulations, essentially awards good behavior and recognizes rehabilitation. (READ: Early release of Antonio Sanchez? Here’s what the GCTA law says)
On August 22, however, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Nicanor Faeldon said Sanchez may not be among the thousands of inmates set for release soon, based on reported misdemeanors during his imprisonment, following backlash. (TIMELINE: DOJ backtracks on possible early release of Antonio Sanchez)
Guevarra said that the DOJ will now inform the SC abut the need to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs, adding that there is no need to “formally ask” the High Court.
“We will surely inform the SC the need to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs until the Bureau of Corrections guidelines have been carefully reviews by a DOJ task force to be constituted for the purpose,” Guevarra said. – Rappler.com