Duterte wants to speed up release of elderly, sick prisoners under GCTA law

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to speed up the release of sick or elderly prisoners eligible for early freedom under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

"Ako, I'll ask the administration, whoever will take over or the [Department of Justice] to fast-track 'yung mga may sakit na, at talagang matatanda na (the sickly and those who are really old)," Duterte said on Tuesday, September 17, in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

How old is elderly? Duterte said he would likely set it to the ages 70 or 75.

"Hindi na marunong mang-holdup 'yan, hindi na makatakbo 'yan (They no longer know how to holdup an establishment, they can no longer run)," he said.

Would even elderly heinous crime convicts benefit from Duterte's statement? The President seemed to be not worried if an aged serial rapist were to be set free soon. Rape is considered a heinous crime under Republic Act No. 7659, which imposed the death penalty in 1993.

"O kung takot ka pa kay serial rapist, paputol mo na lang diyan sa foundry nila bago palabasin," he said. (If you are still scared of the serial rapist, just cut off his penis in the foundry before you set him free.)

It was the possible early release of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez – who had cited illnesses and old age in a petition for clemency – that sparked the GCTA law controversy.

But Duterte has said he takes the legal view that heinous crime convicts cannot benefit from early release under the GCTA law.

Duterte had ordered the rearrest of almost 2,000 heinous crime convicts released due to the GCTA law. He had given the convicts 15 days, or until September 19, to surrender to authorities. 

So far, only roughly 600 former prisoners had complied. Asked about this turnout, Duterte repeated the P1-million reward money for every convict captured.

"I said I will just set the timeline and then the P1 million prize is available to those who can capture them dead or alive, but maybe dead would be a better option. I will pay you smiling," he said. – Rappler.com 

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.