DoJ freezes early release of inmates

August 27, 2019
Menardo Guevarra

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday announced the suspension of the processing of good conduct time allowances (GCTA) of prisoners.

“I have given verbal orders to the BUCOR (Bureau of Corrections) to temporarily suspend the processing of GCTAs as a precautionary measure and in the interest of prudence,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Also, Guevarra disclosed that the task force that will review the guidelines for prisoners seeking reduced sentence will ask the BuCor for a list of inmates who were already released under the GCTA rule.

“The task force will ask BuCor for a list of those inmates already released and determine what needs to be done. Should there be any sign of fraud or irregularity, I will order a separate probe,” Guevarra said.

Last week, Guevarra said he would seek the GCTA’s suspension so as to clear the air brought by his recent pronouncement on the possibility that former Calauan, Laguna town mayor Antonio Sanchez, convicted of the 1993 rape-slaying of University of the Philippines Los Banos student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her schoolmate Allan Gomez, might be released early over the grant.

The GCTA shortens the time of imprisonment based on a convict’s good conduct.

“We are reviewing the existing guidelines for GCTA and the BuCor will henceforth base its actions on any new guidelines that will come out,” Guevarra said in a statement.

Also, Guevarra bared that there will be a definite period within which to complete the review upon consultation with the BuCor, Bureau of Pardon and Parole, and other relevant agencies, to avoid any undue prejudice to the rights of inmates who have validly earned GCTAs.

Sanchez hogged the headlines once again after it was reported recently that he may be out from prison soon.

This was because of a new law increasing good conduct time allowance of prisoners (Republic Act 10592), and a recent Supreme Court decision applying this law retroactively.

The guilty verdict against Sanchex was handed down on March 11, 1995 by Judge Harriet Demetriou, who said that the rape and murder of Sarmenta and Gomez were “a plot seemingly hatched in hell.”

The SC upheld the Laguna regional trial court ruling in 1999 against Sanchez, who is currently serving his sentence of seven terms of reclusion perpetua at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City.