By Rey Panaligan
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Sunday only 28 of the 1,914 prisoners released on expanded and retroactive implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) have yet to be verified if any of them has left the country.
DOJ Undersecretary and Spokesman Markk Perete said records of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) showed that none of the 1,886 prisoners verified by the bureau based on documents submitted by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has left the country.
The BI is the attached agency of the DOJ that keeps travel records and monitors the entry and exit of Filipinos and foreigners in airports and ports in the country.
Perete said the remaining 28 prisoners who have yet to be verified by the BI have common names. “The names, dates of birth of the remaining PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) have yet to be transmitted by the BuCor to the BI.”
As of last Saturday, the DOJ said that a total of 505 prisoners released on GCTA since 2013 have been in BuCor custody.
President Duterte has given the prisoners released on GCTA to voluntarily surrender within 15 days or until Thursday, September 19.
Two of those convicted in the rape-slay of the Chiong sisters in Cebu have not yet surrendered despite their assurances to do so.
DOJ Undersecretary Deo Marco said Josman Aznar and James Anthony Uy have until September 19 to return to prison as ordered by the President.
“Like all the rest, they have until the 19th to surrender. Thereafter, the police will also treat them as convicts prematurely released but who will be recommitted to complete the rest of their sentence,” Perete said.
BuCor records showed that four of the seven convicted in the rape and killing of sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong reportedly benefitted from the expanded coverage and implementation of the GCTA law under Republic Act No. 10592.
Two of them – Ariel Balansag and Albert Cano – have surrendered.
DOJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra had earlier manifested the need to review RA 10592 on the expanded and retroactive implementation of the GCTA.
Perete, on the other hand, said RA 10575 that made BuCor a line agency of the DOJ should also be reviewed
“Since its (RA 10575) passage, DOJ can only exercise administrative supervision over the BuCor instead of control,” he pointed out.
“This is also the law used by BuCor’s legal to justify its assertion that its decisions as regards the release of high-profile inmates do not need notice to, much less prior approval by, the SOJ (secretary of justice),” he said.