Heads must roll over inmates’ release -- solons

September 01, 2019

HEADS must roll in the aftermath of 1,900 inmates convicted for heinous crimes given early freedom despite being ineligible under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, lawmakers said Sunday.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said concerned officials should also face charges and, possibly, detention.

“(Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor) Faeldon should be held accountable for putting [convicted murderer-rapist Antonio] Sanchez on the release list despite him not being qualified. The families of Eileen Sarmenta and Allan Gomez were not even notified of his impending release. Para niyang sinampal at dinuraan ang mga pamilya ng mga biktima,” Brosas pointed out.

“Not only we should send back to jail those who were wrongfully given freedom. Those who freed them should also be imprisoned,” said Castelo. “This is alarming. Our streets are not safe. This is a total breakdown of the justice system. Those who allowed the GCTA abused should join the convicts in jail.”

Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman meanwhile said the implementation of the GCTA for thousands of qualified prisoners should not be derailed by the recent controversy, as it constitutes “the greater injustice.”

“The case of Antonio Sanchez and other non-qualified beneficiaries should not imperil the fate of around 10,000 prisoners who are qualified for early conditional release by their remorse, rehabilitation and good conduct. They have earned it. Tuluy- tuloy dapat ang evaluation for GCTA program,” Hataman explained.

House senior Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin lamented that the GCTA controversy “will set a bad precedent and risk releasing undeserving criminals of heinous crimes like Sanchez.”

“Our justice system is not infallible. Maybe there is a need to review laws that were passed with good intentions but with adverse impacts on the families of victims. Naniniwala po akong may mga deserving makalaya, at mayroong mga hindi dapat palayain and Sanchez is one good example of a person who is unworthy of freedom,” said Garin.

ACT-CIS Party-list Reps. Niña Taduran and Eric Yap said giving a second chance to convicts behind heinous crimes is like taking back the justice given to the families of the victims.

“These criminals have ruined a lot of lives, and they only demonstrated that they have no place in a civilized society,” Taduran stressed.

Yap also sought the amendment of the Revised Penal Code, which states the Three-Fold Rule wherein a convict that is to serve successive penalties will not actually serve the penalties imposed by law.

“We should not allow dangerous people to be reintegrated back to our society,” Yap stressed.

The three-fold rule in Article 70 of the Revised Penal Code, according to Yap, provides that “the maximum duration of the convict’s sentence shall not be more than three-fold the length of time corresponding to the most severe of the penalties imposed upon him. No other penalty to which he may be liable shall be inflicted after the sum total of those imposed equals the said maximum period. Such maximum period shall in no case exceed forty years.”

“It is high time that we call for a review of this rule. There just can’t be a maximum period for penalties on heinous crimes such as the Sanchez case. We are already studying this very carefully and I hope to file a House bill calling for the amendment of the three-fold rule including the RA 10592. We need a strong and effective deterrent against criminality,” said Yap.