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2 lawmakers want no GCTA for heinous crime convicts
REPRESENTATIVES Paolo Duterte (1st District, Davao City) and Eric Yap (Lone District, Benguet) have sought the passage of a measure that would categorically exclude persons convicted of heinous crimes from availing themselves of the benefits of the law that cuts prison time for inmates with good behavior.
Duterte and Yap said the enactment of their proposed measure, as outlined under House Bill (HB) No. 4649, aims to plug perceived “loopholes in Republic Act (RA) No. 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Enacted in 2013, the GCTA law increased the credits earned by persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) for good conduct, which, in turn, translates to a reduction in their prison sentences.
In 2019, the law sparked controversy after nearly 2,000 persons convicted of heinous crimes benefited from re-computing their GCTA credits and were freed.
They eventually returned after then-President Rodrigo Duterte ordered them to surrender or else be treated as “fugitives.”
“The spirit of RA 10592, which revised the computation of the good conduct time allowance for persons deprived of liberty, is justice with mercy. However, it should only benefit those who deserve it—those who have been reformed and are ready to be reintegrated into the society without posing a threat,” Duterte and Yap said in filing HB 4649.
Under RA 7659, heinous crimes include treason; piracy in general and mutiny on the high seas in Philippine waters; qualified piracy; qualified bribery; parricide; murder; infanticide; kidnapping and serious illegal detention; robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons; destructive arson; rape; and importation, distribution, manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs.
To put to rest the debates over the proper implementation of the GCTA law and institutionalize the exclusion of heinous-crime convicts from its benefits, Duterte and Yap urged Congress to swiftly pass HB 4649.
To ensure that GCTA credits are given fairly and judiciously, Duterte and Yap said the enactment of HB 4649 also mandates the Secretary of Justice to formulate “an objective and quantitative criterion for the evaluation and credit of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) to be used by the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, the Chief of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and/or the Warden of the provincial, district, or city jail in granting good conduct.”
Under HB 4649, good conduct refers “to the conspicuous and satisfactory behavior of a detention or convicted prisoner consisting of active involvement in rehabilitation programs which include adoption of restorative justice among others, productive participation in authorized work activities or accomplishment of exemplary deeds, ownership of the crime and earnest efforts to seek forgiveness from the victims and their families, and exemplary compliance with institutional disciplinary rules and regulations.”
The two lawmakers pointed out that the earlier incident which allowed heinous-crime convicts to benefit from the GCTA law “threatened the security of the general public and breached the trust of the Filipino people to the law itself and to institutions involved.”
They said that while the GCTA law promotes rehabilitation and restorative justice, it should explicitly exclude those convicted of heinous crimes.