PNP: Warrantless arrests ‘applicable’ if GCTA releases revoked

Rambo Talabong
PNP: Warrantless arrests ‘applicable’ if GCTA releases revoked
'These convicts will be treated as fugitives from justice,' says Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde

MANILA, Philippines – If the release of heinous crime convicts due to the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law is revoked, the Philippine National Police (PNP) believes they can arrest them again without any warrant.

“Should there be any nullification or invalidation of their early release from prison, these convicts will be treated as fugitives from justice, thus warrantless arrest is applicable,” PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing on Monday, September 2.

According to Albayalde, the police is already prepared to deploy “tracker teams” to account for prisoners who have been released.

Problems with Albayalde’s statement: A warrantless arrest is only allowed under conditions set by the rules of criminal procedure: when the person commits the crime in the presence of an officer, or when there is probable cause to believe a crime has just been committed, or if it is a prisoner escaping from jail.

Criminal law professor and former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te also earlier pointed out that it was illegal to bring back released convicts in an earlier interview with Rappler.  (READ: Is it legal to send back to jail released heinous crimes convicts?)

Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code authorized the director of prisons to grant time allowances for good conduct. “Such allowances once granted shall not be revoked,” said the provision.

“Article 99 expressly says that the GCTA, once granted, cannot be revoked and its consequences, once set in place, cannot be reversed,” Te said.

Section 22 of the Bill of Rights also says “no ex post facto law or bill of attainer shall be enacted.”

A change of tune? This comes after the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) announced that 1,914 heinous crimes convicts have been released from imprisonment since the GCTA law’s enactment in 2013. 

Albayalde’s statement on Monday cued a change in tone for the PNP’s appreciation for the GCTA law.

Just on August 22, the PNP said in a statement that the release of thousands of inmates because of the GCTA law meant no security threats to communities.

Public outcry has been burning on the implementation of the law since the possible release of one heinous crimes offender, convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, has been placed under the spotlight.

 

– with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.