MANILA, Philippines – Working beyond the order of President Rodrigo Duterte to rearrest released heinous crime convicts, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has also been arresting former prisoners convicted of low-level crimes, Rappler learned.
Based on the tally of the PNP on convicts released through the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law who have surrendered as of Friday, September 9, there have been at least two who were rearrested even if they did not commit heinous crimes.
One convicted of robbery was rearrested in Bicol while another who was convicted of carnapping was taken in at the Mimaropa region.
Both crimes are not categorized as heinous based on Republic Act 7659, the same law used by the Duterte administration in defining who should be arrested again.
The arrests were confirmed to Rappler by PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard Banac.
"Yes [they did not commit] heinous crimes, but since they surrendered as well, we received them. Up to BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) to exclude them," Banac told Rappler in a text message.
Why does this matter? This means that the PNP will not only rearrest the 1,914 heinous crime convicts ordered by President Duterte to surrender, but also other former prisoners who have been granted liberty through the GCTA law.
The number of heinous crime convicts is dwarfed by those convicted for lesser crimes: at least 20,000.
As of September 9, or 5 days after Duterte's order to surrender, the PNP has already rearrested 119 released convicts.
This, despite opposition from lawyers who said the order is illegal because the Revised Penal Code prohibits the revocation of good conduct time allowance.
Banac added that when Duterte's 15-day deadline for surrender lapses, they would only hunt down heinous crime covincts.
"The warrantless arrest will only be made for those convicted of heinous crimes who were earlier released under the GCTA law and will not surrender during the given 15-day grace period," Banac said.
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.