Latin America

De Lima says she doesn’t have to explain GCTA IRR

Lian Buan
'I could not comprehend how my personal view on the matter can shed light on the query,' Senator Leila de Lima tells Ombudsman Samuel Martires, noting that the IRR published when she was DOJ chief was an 'institutional output'

SHARP REPLY. Senator Leila De Lima sends a sharp response to Ombudsman Samuel Martires over the latter's letter to explain why the original IRR of the GCTA Law did not exclude heinous crimes. Photo by: Lito Borras/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima is not taking Ombudsman Samuel Martires’ letter sitting down.

Asked to explain in 3 days why the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law published when she was justice secretary did not exclude heinous crimes, De Lima told Martires in her response that the IRR was an “institutional output.”

“Whatever query you may have regarding the IRR therefore may be properly and officially answered by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), being the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of said IRR,” De Lima said in a response sent to the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, September 17.

“I could not therefore comprehend how my personal view on the matter can shed light on the query you are requiring me to answer,” she added.

De Lima also said it would be Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who would have access to records to enlighten the intent and wisdom of all the people in the DOJ involved in crafting the IRR at the time. 

“I suggest your good office require the explanation you are demanding from me from the office of Secretary Guevarra,” said De Lima.

In an interview on ANC on Tuesday, former senator Chiz Escudero, one of the co-authors of the law, said “it would be unfair” to blame De Lima or former interior secretary Mar Roxas for the IRR, saying that “they consulted members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

In her response to Martires, De Lima also called as a “discourtesy” the 3-day deadline that Martires had given her.

“It is not clear in your letter whether I am being required to clarify the issue as a resource person, as a respondent in an administrative investigation, or as a respondent in a criminal investigation. I presume it is not as a resource person because I am being required to reply within a time period which is not usually a discourtesy that is addressed to resource persons,” said De Lima.

De Lima said if she was a respondent, then she would wait for a subpoena before she made any further participation.  (READ: Gaps by both Aquino, Duterte administrations led to GCTA mess)

‘Blame game’

Asked for comment on De Lima’s statement that it should be him who should explain to the Ombudsman on the GCTA law IRR, Guevarra initially told reporters “res ipsa loquitur,” a legal doctrine that implies negligence on the part of the person in power.

But when asked further on whether negligence can be inferred given that legislators such as Escudero are saying the IRR was made in good faith, Guevarra said he would not be resorting to “an unproductive blame game.”

“We at the DOJ won’t dwell on things that had come to pass, much less waste our time on an unproductive blame game,” said Guevarra.

Guevarra added: “The revised IRR reflects our best interpretation of RA 10592 as it was actually crafted, finalized, and signed. The current DOJ has done its part. Let Congress do its own.”

The new and revised IRR, signed just on Monday, September 16, categorically excludes heinous crime convicts from scope of the law.

But because heinous crime convicts were not excluded in the GCTA under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) before the law was enacted in 2013, the new IRR says that heinous crime convicts can avail of the much lesser GCTA under the RPC. 

Heinous crime convicts after 2013, however, are not entitled to any type of GCTA.

This could bring up issues of equal protection, but Guevarra the courts would just have to decide on this. –


Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.