MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has junked the petition of heinous crime convict Antonio Sanchez and other inmates against Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra over the revised implementing rules on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
In a resolution dated December 3, 2019, but released only a month later, the High Court cited procedural flaws in dismissing the petition filed by the former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, whose supposed early release last year was foiled after an angry public slammed the government for even considering to free the unapologetic killer-rapist.
The procedural flaws include failure to pay docket and other fees, lack of proof of service, insufficiency of the petition in form, defective or insufficient certification against forum shopping, and failure to file the required number of plain copies of the petition.
The petition of Sanchez and other heinous crime convicts named as respondents Guevarra and the Bureau of Corrections, which is under the Department of Justice, in connection with the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on Republic Act No. 10592 or the GCTA law.
Sanchez started serving 7 terms of reclusion perpetua in 1993 for the rape of University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) student Mary Eileen Sarmenta, and the double murder of Sarmenta and her friend Alan Gomez.
The former mayor again dominated the headlines in August 2019 after Guevarra initially said he was eligible for early release under RA 10592 signed in 2013, which provided new guidelines on how to compute good conduct time allowance as basis for reducing prison terms.
While the IRR issued by the administration of then-president Benigno Aquino III stated that the law was prospective in application, or after the law was signed, the Supreme Court, acting on a petition of New Bilibid Prison inmates in June 2019, declared that the law would be applied retroactively.
Public outrage over the prospect of Sanchez’s early release prompted the government to backtrack and categorically say that heinous crime convicts are not covered by the GCTA law.
The Sanchez controversy prompted the government to order the surrender of previously released convicts, even those qualified under the GCTA law. At least 1,525 people who returned to prison in the aftermath of the GCTA law controversy spent Christmas in detention, or more than 3 months after they were forced to surrender. (READ: Bilibid returnees die in Duterte administration blunders) – Rappler.com