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Ombudsman Martires: Convicts can be rearrested without warrant

MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Thursday, September 19, that the freed convicts being asked to surrender can be rearrested without a warrant.

"Wala nang warrant of arrest, parang nagpapunta ka pa ng husgado na magi-issue ng warrant of arrest, eh kung 'yung pagkakalaya mo ay may anomalya," Martires told reporters on Thursday.

(There's no need for a warrant of arrest, it's like having to go to a judge to issue a warrant of arrest when your release is already anomalous.)

Should convicts decide to sue the government in the future over the legality of their rearrest, complaints can be lodged before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Martires agreed with the position of the Duterte government – particularly the Department of Justice (DOJ) – that the releases of heinous crime convicts are null and void.

The DOJ has recently revised the Internal Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10592 to exclude heinous crimes from the coverage of good conduct time allowance (GCTA.)

"Kung may misrepresentation dun sa pag-release ng isang prisoner,  it becomes null and void. Kung nakalaya ka, dapat sumuko ka dahil magiging fugitive of justice ka," said Martires, a former justice of the Supreme Court.

(If there were misrepresentations in your release, it becomes null and void. If you were freed, you should surrender because if not, you will become a fugitive of justice.)

Martires added: "Bakit kailangan ng court order? Sa aking pananaw ha, hindi na kailangan ng court order dahil parang nagpapunta pa ako ng husgado."

(Why do you need a court order? In my opinion, you no longer need a court order because it's like having to go to a judge.) 

There can be potential arguments that the rearrest is tantamount to the prohibited ex-post facto law since at the time of their releases, the prevailing interpretation of RA 10592 was that it included heinous crimes. Article 99 of the Revised Penal Code also says that good conduct time allowance "once granted shall not be revoked." (READ: Legal issues hound Duterte order for 1,914 convicts to surrender)

Convicts can also argue that they were released on good faith, and that the revised IRR was not existent at the time.

"I don't want to answer that, that is now the domain of Justice Secretary (Menardo) Guevarra," said Martires. 

Thursday, September 19, is the deadline for the 1,914 convicts to surrender.

When 12 am strikes on Friday, September 20, a manhunt will be launched for the rearrest with Guevarra saying "reasonable force" can be used if convicts resist.

As of 11:30 am on Thursday, 1,304 of the 1,914 convicts have already surrendered to the Bureau of Corrections, according to Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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