Sotto on GCTA hearing: More witnesses will be presented

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 11, 2019   •   262

Senate President Vicente Sotto III

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday (September 11) said more witnesses on the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) will be presented at the Senate hearing on Thursday (September 12).

Four to five new witnesses might testify during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing tomorrow.

According to Sotto, these are former inmates and employees of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). Their testimonies will center on the GCTA and “hospital pass for sale” issue.

“I signed seven subpoenas which include subpoena duces tecum, but personalities will be presented tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile, the calls and messages from Elvira Sanchez have been retrieved. Sanchez is the common law wife of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

The Senate is also seeking the assistance of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to identify who texted Elvira that her husband will be released.

In a previous hearing, Ms. Sanchez already said she did not know who texted and called her.

“Ang trace nila galing sa loob, (The trace came from the inside). It was a text from an inmate. As a matter of fact hindi lang text (it’s not just a text). Hindi accurate iyong sinabi ni Ms. Sanchez, [may] tawag, (Ms. Sanchez’s statement was not accurate, there was also a call)” according to Sotto.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

More heinous crime convicts yield to Duterte’s call hours before deadline

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Several heinous crime convicts who were released through Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) yielded to authorities’ hours before the deadline on Thursday (September 19).

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 15-day ultimatum to over 1,000 heinous crime convicts freed due to the GCTA law to surrender or face warrantless arrest.

The President also announced a reward for the capture of those who would refuse his call to surrender.

The surrenders said they fear of their safety thus they decided to voluntarily return to authorities’ custody.

Earlier on Thursday, returning inmates arrived at New Bilibid Prison (NBP), each handing over their respective release order proving they were freed under the GCTA.

One of them was alias ‘Roy’ who was detained due to illegal drugs.

He was released last year after nine months in jail.

He was supposed to serve a 12 to 14-year jail term.

“Voluntary na lang, Sir para seguridad na rin (I volunteered to surrender for my own safety),” he said.

“Nanghihinayang rin kasi may trabaho na kami tapos bigla pa kaming mababalik, (It’s regretful because I already established a job outside detention but now, I need to go back in,)” he added.

Similar to ‘Roy,’ alias ‘Roger’ also fears the President’s directive and for his own peace, he decided to surrender.

“Mga ilang araw hindi ako makatulog, (I couldn’t sleep at night,)” Roger said.

“Tapos noong nakita ko nga nagsalita na naman, noong napanood ko sa TV (na) ‘Kailangan talaga kahit ano pa man ang ano mo. Pumunta na kayo. Sumuko kayo,’ napagpasyahan ko nga,” he added.

(I saw the President on TV saying: ‘You must return and surrender.’ That’s why I decided to just return.)

About 400 GCTA-freed heinous crime convicts have returned to the national penitentiary while the rest were distributed to different jail facilities under the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

On Wednesday evening (September 18), two of the convicts in the Chiong sister’s rape-slay case, Josman Aznar and James Anthony Uy, also surrendered to authorities.

Aznar and Uy were released last month. – MNP (with details from Sherwin Culubong)

‘Tracker team’ all set for deployment as Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts passes

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s surrender deadline for heinous crime convicts freed through the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) will be until midnight of Thursday (September 19).

After which, the Philippine National Police (PNP) will deploy its tracker team to chase those who refuse to yield to the President’s call.

According to National Capital Region Police (NCRPO) Chief Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, out of 1,914 heinous crime convicts released under GCTA, a total of 202 reside in Metro Manila.

From that number, only 26 surrendered.

Therefore, a total 176 convicts remain at large and they are the target of the NCRPO’s tracker team.

“All the tracker teams natin of the 176 targets in Metro Manila, they will start their manhunt at 12 o’ clock. They are distributed in the 26 police station,” Eleazar said.

“Within 6 hours from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock all the 176 addresses, lahat iyon ay pupuntahan ng tracker teams natin, (They will all be chased by our tracker teams,)” he added.

Eleazar said they want to arrest their targets alive as much as possible.

“We want to get them alive, but kung mayroong (but in the event of) aggressive behavior on their part, of course, we have to defend ourselves,” he explained.

The official warned to file appropriate charges against those convicts who would refuse arrest.

Earlier today, four convicts surrendered to the NCRPO though their names were not included in the list of GCTA-freed convicts of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

All they wanted, they said, was to make sure their lives are safe.

They are now under the custody of the BuCor. – MNP (with details from Lea Ylagan)

Roxas tells Enrile: Public office ban is for those facing plunder charges

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former DILG Secretary Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas on Wednesday twitted former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, saying those accused of plunder or stealing from government coffers should be the ones banned from seeking or holding public office.

“Ahem. Yung dapat barred from public service at makulong, yung may kaso ng plunder,” Roxas said in a Twitter post.

Roxas’ remark was an apparent response to Enrile’s statement that Roxas and detained Senator Leila de Lima should be “disqualified forever from holding public office” for the mess brought about by the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) they drafted for the Republic Act 10592 or the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

READ: Enrile wants De Lima, Roxas perpetually barred from public office for GCTA mess

Enrile earlier blamed Roxas and De Lima, then Justice Secretary, for the irregularities in the implementation of the law which led to the questionable release of 1,914 heinous crimes convicts since its enactment in 2013.

“They should be disqualified forever from holding public office. Sila ang may kasalanan sila ang gumawa eh the people below them are being guided of what they did,” Enrile said in a media interview at the Senate on Wednesday.

The former lawmaker said the law clearly states that convicts involved in heinous crimes are among those excluded from availing of the early release rule based on good conduct credits.

Enrile said the IRR crafted by De Lima and Roxas, which supposedly added heinous crime convicts as GCTA beneficiaries, was “unconstitutional and void ab initio (from the beginning).”

But according to Roxas, the IRR faithfully reflects the RA 10592 and the Revised Penal Code, stressing that each provision corresponds to specific parts and paragraphs of the statute particularly on exclusion of inmates convicted of heinous crimes.

“Allegations that the IRR has strayed from the law on which it is based are unquestionably unfounded,” Roxas explained in a letter responding to the Ombudsman’s request on the matter.

Roxas cited Rule 4, Section 6 of the law’s IRR on provisional release while under preventive imprisonment, which states that: “Whenever an accused has undergone preventive imprisonment for a period equal to the imposable maximum imprisonment of the offense charged to which he may be sentenced and his case is not yet decided, he shall be released immediately without prejudice to the continuation of the trial thereof or the proceeding on appeal, if the same is under review, except for the following: ‘recidivist, habitual delinquent, escapee, person charged with heinous crimes’.”

Enrile, 95, is facing a P172-million plunder charge before the Anti-Graft court in relation to the P10 billion pork barrel scam which involved businesswoman Janet Napoles and other public officials.

He is currently out of prison after the Supreme Court granted him temporary liberty in 2015 for humanitarian reasons.  

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