DOJ 'sanitizes' faulty GCTA arrest list ahead of manhunt

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Thursday, September 19, that it is moving to "sanitize" the Bureau of Corrections' (BuCor) arrest list of heinous crime convicts released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said this at the 6th Senate hearing on the GCTA on Thursday, hours before warrantless arrests were made on released convicts not qualified for GCTA under the recently-issued revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10592. 

In response to questions about flaws in the  BuCor list, Guevarra assured senators that the DOJ will double check the list for errors before the scheduled manhunt begins after midnight of Thursday.  (READ: PH gears for manhunt of over 900 heinous crime convicts)

"We will come out with a sanitized list or a corrected list and we're removing those who have already surrendered because they are already in, plus those corrections that we have to make," Guevarra said.

"We understand there are some people who are granted executive clemency were also in that list, some who have fully served their sentence even without GCTA, and some who were on parole. So we have to weed them out so that they won't be included in that list on the so-called fugitives from justice," Guevarra added.

Earlier on Thursday, the Philippine National Police had flagged that two dead men were on the arrest list provided by the Bureau of Corrections. In previous Senate hearings, the BuCor admitted that they rushed the list before turning it over to the PNP.

Rappler had obtained a copy of the same list and it turned out that not all of those on the list were released because of GCTA.

During the hearing, veteran lawyer Estelito Mendoza told the Senate panel that his client, road rage convict Rolito Go, was on the arrest list when the Supreme Court had already ordered his release in 2016.

Mendoza said people were "worrying" that they would be arrested anytime.

In response, Guevarra said that the DOJ would delist Go.

For those who had turned themselves in, Guevarra said that that they would also evaluate their cases, whether they would be freed soon or would have to serve their remaing sentences due to the faulty application of the GCTA law.

Senator Richard Gordon, the Senate justice committee chairperson, said that theSC had provided them a document listing the correct cases of convicts since 2010, as the list from BuCor was full of errors.

Guevarra said that the High Court's document would be helpful in sanitizing the arrest list.

According to the BuCor, at least 1,304 of the 1,914 had surrendered as of 11:30 am on Thursday. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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