DOJ orders warrantless arrest of GCTA-freed PDLs who won’t surrender by Sept 19

Maris Federez   •   September 17, 2019   •   163

Two days more to go before the expiration of the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte for the persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who were freed by virtue of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA).

In the latest Department of Justice (DOJ) data, only around 700 of them have surrendered and are now under the custody of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

This prompted the DOJ to mull over coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in capturing these freed PDLs even without warrants of arrest, should they fail to surrender after the September 19 deadline.

“Each minute, each hour, each day that you refuse to turn yourself in is a continuing commission of an offense and for that reason, law enforcement agencies may arrest you even without a warrant,” DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

The DOJ said they are ready to face anyone who will elevate the matter to the court.

“He may go to court and ask for any relief you wish to obtain from the court, but for now that is how we intend to (do it) and the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) through the PNP (Philippine National Police) is ready to do so after the 19th,” said Guevarra.

Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila College of Law Dean Attorney George Erwin Garcia, however, said this is a blatant violation of the Constitution.

Garcia said that based on the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, every individual has the right to due process and can only be detained if there is court-issued warrant of arrest or if he is caught in the act of committing a crime.

Garcia said any convict who wishes to challenge this government’s move may file a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus before the Supreme Court.

The Writ of Habeas Corpus orders an individual or government official who has custody of a person to bring that person to the Court to determine if his detention was legally done.

The latest DOJ data shows that of the 1,914 PDLs freed under the CGTA, 692 have already surrendered and are now under the custody of BuCor. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Senate asks DOJ for protection of witnesses vs. ‘ninja cops’

Maris Federez   •   October 17, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Wednesday (Oct. 16) requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) to give protection to the witnesses in the Agaw-Bato operations of the so-called “ninja cops”.

In a phone interview, Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said they want to ensure that the testimonies of the witnesses are filed before the Court.

“[It] means that they will go to the court and they will execute an affidavit there. And in which case, if anything happens, hopefully not, that will be admissible in court,” Gordon added.

Among the witnesses that Gordon was referring to were the barangay officials that Johnson Lee sought help from when he was arrested in the police buy-bust operation in November 2010 in the province of Pampanga.

Other witnesses were the police personnel in Mexico, Pampanga, where the alleged cover-up took place when the barangay officials brought Lee to the station.

Lee reportedly paid P50-M to the police for his release.

After releasing Lee, the police arrested another Chinese suspect.

Gordon said they will leave it to the DOJ to determine whether these officers deserve to be under the government’s witness protection program (WPP).

The senator also said they will let Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, retired police Rudy Lacadin, and the other police officers decide if they want to undergo the said process.

Justice Sec. Guevarra said they shall await the Senate’s formal request before they set into action.

Meanwhile, Gordon said they will try their best to complete the committee report on their investigation on the said illegal operation in the police force.

The Blue Ribbon Committee chairman said that included in the report are the possible recommendations as to who must be held liable on the said illegal activity.

He stressed that resigned-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief PGen. Oscar Albayalde will still be facing charges relative to the said controversy.

“Tanungin ninyo ako kung pwede pa siyang kasuhan (Ask me if he can be charged). The answer is yes. Tanungin ninyo ko kung criminal. (Ask me if it’s a criminal [case]).  The answer could be yes, kung may enough evidence kami (if we have enough evidence). And I think we do,” Gordon said. (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

DOJ begins reinvestigation on 2013 drug raid

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 16, 2019

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra

The Department of Justice has begun reinvestigation of the 2013 Pampanga drug raid involving 13 cops allegedly involved in illegal drug recycling.

The 13 cops were ordered to attend the investigation and submit additional evidence.

DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra previously formed a three-member panel to reinvestigate the case where around 160 kilos of suspected illegal drugs were seized during an operation in Pampanga.

The Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), meanwhile, requested the DOJ panel for more time to submit records about alleged drug lord Johnson Lee and Ding Wengkun.

The DOJ panel will give the PNP-CIDG five days to submit additional evidence and supplemental affidavit.

Meanwhile, PMaj. Rodney Baloyo was given a subpoena by the DOJ for not attending the preliminary investigation.

Baloyo is currently at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa after the Senate cited him in contempt for allegedly lying during a hearing.

“We still issued subpoena to the said respondent and even wrote a letter to the Senate president asking permission for him to be allowed in this proceedings,” according to state prosecutor Senior Assistant Atty. Alexander Suarez. —AAC (with reports from April Cenedoza)

DILG welcomes petition questioning legality of revised GCTA guidelines

Robie de Guzman   •   October 2, 2019

Inmates listen during a peace accord event to stop violence amongst gangs inside the New ‘Bilibid’ Prison’s maximum security compound in Muntinlupa city, south of Manila, Philippines, 27 December 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has welcomed the petition filed before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the revised implementing rules and regulations of the Republic Act 10592 which increased the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) given to inmates.

DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said they are ready to defend their position, adding that the department along with the Department of Justice (DOJ) worked hard to promulgate the revised guidelines to “clarify the ambiguous provisions of the GCTA law that have led to past abuse in its implementation.”

“The revised IRR addresses the many inadequacies of the old IRR that were abused and taken advantage of by corrupt correctional officials,” Malaya said in a statement.

“We will be working closely with our statutory counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the DOJ in vigorously defending the new IRR before the Supreme Court,” he added.

The DILG official also stressed that the law gave the DOJ and the DILG the authority and responsibility to craft the IRR.

Officers from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) who have the “necessary experience and technical expertise on the matter” helped in the crafting of the guidelines.

“The new IRR is one crucial step in the reform of the BuCor,” Malaya said.

A group of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) earlier filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to nullify the revised IRR of the GCTA law, particularly the provision disqualifying convicts of heinous crimes from availing of time allowance for good conduct, loyalty, study, teaching and mentoring for “going beyond the law and for being tantamount to executive legislation.

The petitioners also urged the high court to order the BuCor and the BJMP to refrain from retroactively applying the exclusions introduced by the revised IRR which they said are disadvantageous to any prisoners.

“While we are confident of our legal position, the final arbiter will be the highest court of the land whose decision we shall honor and respect,” Malaya concluded.

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