New IRR could risk GCTA of qualified convicts

MANILA, Philippines – A new feature of the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10592 could risk the good conduct time allowances (GCTA) of even qualified convicts.

The new IRR categorically excluded heinous crime convicts from GCTA coverage under RA 10592, but it added a new operational rule about how and when to grant the GCTAs.

In the old rule, GCTAs are granted monthly, which prompted criticisms that it did not encourage sustained behavior as prisoners can commit a grave offense and lose time allowance for that month only. (READ: DOJ's new IRR of GCTA Law 'open to serious legal challenge')

In the case of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has records of him stashing drugs in his jail cell and possessing prohibited prison items like an air-conditioning unit.

In the new rule, GCTAs accrue monthly, but are granted at the end of the 2nd year, 5th year, 10th year, 11th year, and beyond.

"So therefore if a particular prisoner for example commits an offense, a grave offense, within a 2-year period, then in the operational guidelines you may have a basis to say that that particular prisoner, by virtue of his commission of an offense, forfeits the entire accrued time allowance," Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said in a news conference on Friday September 20.

Perete said that the operational manual, which is still being finalized, would have to be "firmed up" to clarify if the entire accrued time allowance for the given period is forfeited upon the commission of an offense.

"You have to understand that the lawmakers themselves were saying that there has to be some sort of graduations on the disallowances commensurate to the gravity of the offense, or the violations of prison rules and regulations, and so this particular scheme would allow for such leeway once we tackle the operational guidelines," Perete said.

But this would mean that the GCTA grants of all convicts would have to be reviewed to apply this new feature. After all, even though the Revised Penal Code said GCTA cannot be revoked, the government still voided GCTAs of heinous crime convicts pursuant to the new IRR.

"That is the burden that the implementors of the law would have to assume," Perete said.

It would also open up the possibility that a qualified convict would have reductions in their GCTAs if the new rule is applied and it is found some of their time allowances have to be forfeited.

"We would have to address that particular concern when we are finished.... The priority at the moment is really those who have been included and tagged as having committed a heinous crime," Perete said. – 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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