With Duterte’s blessing, cops hunt convicts with defective arrest list

MANILA, Philippines – What the President says, goes.

This was what policemen on the ground believed as they started hunting down hundreds of freed convicts through the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law despite still holding on to a defective arrest list.

From 12:01 am to 6 am on Friday, September 20, policemen nationwide arrested those included in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) list of released heinous crime convicts, which the BuCor earlier admitted as being both unchecked and rushed.

On Thursday, September 19, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra vowed to “sanitize” their records in time for the arrests.

But come the midnight deadline, cops did not receive anything.

Bale through the initiative of our intelligence division lang po ang nakuha nating listahan, through our research din ng aming regional office. Bale po, wala po kasing narerelease na official list mula sa DOJ (It was through our intelligence division that we got a list, through the research of our regional office. There was no official release from the DOJ),” Captain Elvin John Tio, chief of intelligence of the Moriones Police Station said before dawn on Friday.

We tagged along with Manila cops as they began their manhunt operations against GCTA-freed convicts from 12 am to 6am today. They worked with a list the BuCor has admitted to be "unchecked and rushed." They carried no arrest warrants. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/5hCVnysEzI — Rambo Talabong (@ramboreports) September 19, 2019

Tio was leading a team of cops for the arrest of 4 supposed heinous crime convicts who resided in their area. But out of the 4, only 1 was found.

One’s registered address with the BuCor has already been rebuilt as a new housing community.

Another’s address was so vague that it referred to an entire street (the convict supposedly already fled to Bulacan).

And the last was already dead.

The police arrested one man, who was convicted of rape.  He was found working at a barangay hall. The police team bore no warrant, just the unchecked list and the President’s words.

Rappler earlier obtained a copy of the list the police teams were using and found out that not all the names on it were released through the GCTA law. Hundreds were on parole, and a dozen were already pardoned for their crimes. (IN NUMBERS: The freed 1,914 heinous crime convicts)

Pressed why the police still used an “unofficial list”, Tio argued that the President’s words made it official.

Kapag sinabi ng Presidente, official na siya. Sinabi po ni Presidente 'yan sa warrantless arrest kasi they have been declared officially by the President [as] fugitives from the law (If the President says it, it's official. The President said it would be a warrantless arrest, and that they have been declared as fugitives of the law),” Tio reasoned.

As of 5 am on September 20, cops have only arrested 2 in Metro Manila, the single arrest of Tio’s team included. Counts of arrests from other regions have not poured in as of posting time.

After the overnight operations, police would continue with their warrantless arrest missions, with the hopes of rearresting all that the President had ordered imprisoned again. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.