MANILA, Philippines – Former interior secretary Mar Roxas questioned why the Ombudsman wants him and Senator Leila de Lima, a former justice secretary, to explain why the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law did not exclude heinous crimes.
"May batas na pinasa, 'di ba? Ang nilalaman ng IRR ay nakakuwadro sa batas, hindi puwedeng humigit sa RA (Republic Act) 10592. Bakit ang mga sumulat ng IRR ang pinupuntirya ninyo?" Roxas said in a Facebook post on Tuesday, September 10.
(There was a law that was passed, right? The contents of the IRR were based on the law; it cannot go beyond RA 10592. Why target us who wrote the IRR?)
Ombudsman Samuel Martires wrote letters to Roxas and De Lima, who is detained over drug charges, to explain why the IRR they signed was not explicit on the exclusion from GCTA of those convicted of heinous crimes.
It was during Roxas and De Lima's time when the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Justice published the IRR on the law allowing the early release of inmates who exhibited good behavior while in prison. (READ: Gaps by both Aquino, Duterte administrations led to GCTA mess)
The IRR declared as eligible under the GCTA law "a prisoner convicted by final judgment in any penal institution," meaning all convicted prisoners, the crime notwithstanding.
The old GCTA rule in the Revised Penal Code covered all types of prisoners, but the wording of the GCTA law's section on credit of preventive imprisonment (CPI) gives basis to legal views that heinous crimes should be excluded from the law.
The pertinent provision clause is: "That recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes are excluded from the coverage of this act."
But that clause was found under the CPI section, prompting some lawyers to say that heinous crimes are excluded from CPI only and not GCTA. (READ: Can heinous crimes be excluded from good conduct time allowance law?)
For Roxas, the current issues surrounding the GCTA law are being used as a distraction.
"Apparently iimbestigahan ng Ombudsman itong GCTA issue. Well and good, at masasagot ko kung ano man ang mga tanong nila. Meanwhile, on this very controversial issue, halatang gusto na namang ibaling ang atensiyon sa iba," said Roxas.
(Apparently the Ombudsman is investigating this GCTA issue. Well and good, and I will be able to answer whatever their questions are. Meanwhile, on this very controversial issue, it looks like they want to divert the public's attention to someone else.)
He then said the Ombudsman should instead focus on investigating officials who approved the early release of heinous crime convicts.
Martires has already ordered the 6-month preventive suspension without pay of 27 officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) amid the scandal inside prisons involving GCTA. The Ombudsman also suspended BuCor legal chief Fredric Santos, Technical Superintendent Maria Fe Marquez, and Correctional Officer III Joel Nalva.