From 1,914 to 19: PNP resumes hunt vs GCTA-freed convicts

MANILA, Philippines – After being ordered to stop their arrest of 1,914 convicts supposedly mistakenly released through the controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is back on the field.

This time, they are looking for just 19 people.

The police begin their search in the first hour of Tuesday, October 1, as ordered by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año. 

In text messages to Rappler, Año said they have received a clean list from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Unlike the first list which was rushed, unchecked, and included even dead people, the new list only contains 19 names.

"I have given already the go signal starting this midnight," Año said in a text message.

The arrests, however, will still be executed without any warrant. Lawyers have flagged the government's actions to be against the Revised Penal Code, which bans the revocation of good conduct time allowance.

More to come: In a text message to reporters on Monday evening, September 30, Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the list of 19 is the first installment of more to come.

"The DOJ-BuCor task force is reexamining the case records of each PDL (person deprived of liberty) with extreme care to ensure accuracy. This is a very tedious task, I tell you. The task force will release supplementary lists for submission to the DILG/PNP every now and then," Guevarra said.

The PNP first began their manhunt operations Tokhang-style past midnight on September 20, after President Rodrigo Duterte's deadline for GCTA beneficiaries to surrender had lapsed. The DOJ suspended the rearrest that same morning after it belatedly acknowledged that cops were operating based on an ill-prepared list. 

With the new list, the government hopes to make arrests with more certainty that those they would capture would not be released soon. A total of 87 surrenderers have been released as of Monday night after the government found that they shouldn't have been detained again. – with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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