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MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang wants the nearly 2,000 heinous crime convicts released from jail due to the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law returned to jail.
“Obviously, dapat makabalik sila sa kulungan (they should be brought back to prison) until they serve the full term of their service,” said Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo in a press conference in Beijing on Friday, August 30.
He was speaking of the 1,914 former inmates who had been jailed for committing heinous crimes but who were among the total 22,049 inmates released since 2013 due to the passage of the GCTA law.
Asked by a reporter to comment on the release of these inmates, Panelo said, “That cannot be done because the law is very clear…that those charged and convicted with heinous crimes, escapees, delinquents, or recidivists are not covered b the law.”
Panelo earlier said that based on his review of the GCTA law, heinous crime convicts like rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez are disqualified from availing of the benefits of the measure, such as early release.
Told by a reporter that the same law states the granting of early release cannot be revoked, Panelo said such a provision does not apply if the grantee was never qualified for the law’s coverage.
“When you say it cannot be revoked, it assumes that the grantee are qualified. If they are not qualified, how can you apply that provision?” said President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman.
The possible release of Sanchez, convicted for the 1993 rape and murder of college student Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her boyfriend Alan Gomez, had ignited public interest in the application of the GCTA law.
Government officials initially said Sanchez was automatically eligible for GCTA law coverage but changed tune after public outrage. Panelo himself had said then that the Palace could do “nothing” if the law covers Sanchez.
Senator Bong Go claimed it was Duterte himself who told Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon not to release Sanchez, saying the GCTA law should not benefit heinous crime convicts. – Rappler.com