Senators want to scrap good conduct law

MANILA Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Richard Gordon have filed a bill seeking to repeal Republic Act 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.

The senators filed Senate Bill 993 on Monday proposing to scrap the law that shaves off jail time of prisoners due to good behavior amid public outcry over the possible release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez due to the law's implementation.

A copy of the bill was sent to media on Tuesday.

Sanchez has been sentenced to suffer the maximum penalty of seven 40-year imprisonment or seven counts of reclusion perpetua for one the most sensational crimes in the 1990s, the rape, and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez both students of the University of the Philippines Los BaAos.

This has created public outrage and prompted this august body to look into the propriety of its application to the aforesaid prisoner, as well as the implementation of RA 10592 in general, the senators said in their explanatory note.

The senators noted the absurd interpretation of the law and unharmonized provisions that have been subject to abuse by the persons allowed by law to grant time allowances.

They argued that there is logical reason to abandon the grant of GCTA if the magnitudes of its aftermath are prejudicial for many of the victims and their relatives who are seeking justice.

The provision on GCTA has been in effect since the 1930s and it has not raised this kind of concern from the people and the government. Thus, it is an opportune time to go back to the old law where no question of proper implementation has been put forth to the government and prisoners are enjoying its benefits without a question of the propriety of its applicability on them, they said.

The law is always changing. It is usually reactive to what the society dictates and it constantly reflects changes that occur in our society because the law is simply never perfect, they added.

Gordon's committee on justice and human rights joint with the committees on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, public order, and dangerous drugs, finance and blue ribbon have conducted an inquiry on the alleged early release of Sanchez and the implementation of RA 10592.

During the hearing, Senator Christopher Bong Go said he has filed Senate Bill No. 1003 to clearly state the intent and policy of the law not to extend the benefits of GCTA to prisoners who are convicted of heinous crimes.

Go said there is a provision in the bill stating that persons, who have been convicted of heinous crimes, will not be eligible to be granted time allowances.

To eliminate corruption, he also included a provision stating that any release of prisoners on the basis of time allowances shall be subject to review.

Congress will also know what is happening with the releases, as the Bureau of Corrections will be required to furnish the Legislature with a report twice a year, Go said.

All of these will form part of our continuing fight against corruption and criminality, and illegal drugs, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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