Qualified convicts surrender, won't leave Bilibid without clearance
MANILA, Philippines – A verbal presidential order to rearrest freed convicts is being carried out without a final validated list, with the stakes heightened by President Rodrigo Duterte's casual warning to bring them in "dead or alive."
The result? Even convicts who earned their early release on good conduct time allowance (GCTA) voluntarily turned themselves in and refused to leave the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) without a certification that would protect them from rearrest.
"Those who surrendered last night, some after verification that they are excluded from the original list, they were asked by the Bureau of Corrections to leave the premises. However, they refused to do so because they are asking for a certification from the BuCor that they will no longer be the subject of rearrest," Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said on Friday, September 20.
As of 5 am of Friday, the number of convicts who surrendered tipped over 2,000, exceeding the 1,914 figure in the initial BuCor list. This showed that even non-heinous crime convicts had also turned themselves in. (READ: IN NUMBERS The freed 1,914 heinous crime convicts)
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is rushing to finalize the list of heinous crime convicts who will be hunted down after ignoring Duterte's order to surrender.
Referring to the qualified convicts forced to return to prison, Perete said: "We do understand it would be unfair for them to be detained one day longer. But understand that this is an operational problem that we encounter as well."
Perete said they are simultaneously conducting the cleanup of the list, and the verification process for the qualified convicts so they could get the certifications.
Perete said all those who surrendered, whether qualified or unqualified heinous crime convicts, were in the minimum security area of the NBP.
Despite the confusion that it has created, it would seem that the DOJ is still not compelled to come up with, or at least push for, a written memorandum that will contain all the details of the rearrest, instead of just relying on the President's verbal command.
"We are addressing the concern of issuing the necessary documentation for the (qualified convicts) to be released immediately, and that documentation should be legal protection for them from the rearrest," Perete said.
He echoed his boss, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in an overarching administration stance that whatever Duterte says has the force of a lawful order.
"The directive of the President given by him verbally stands. There is no requirement under the law on what form the directive of the President should be," said Perete. – Rappler.com