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Let government sanity reign — please!

“Those released did not escape, they left the prisons as free men.

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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Prisoners released based on the law on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) cannot be rearrested, as the law’s co-author, Cagayan de Oro Representative Rufus Rodriguez stated, saying there is a procedure that has to be followed in having these convicts back in prison due to the erroneous computation of their good conduct credits.

The call for the return of the prisoners, prompted by the grandstanding senators, pressured by the media blowing up the issue, appeared to have rushed the current Justice chief, Menardo Guevarra and his lawyer-researchers, to scour decades-old judicial rulings as an excuse to demand the return of the freed prisoners to their prison cells on the basis of GCTA. This despite the fact that there are now added new implementing rules which weren’t present when the years old Supreme Court (SC) justices ruled upon.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has said that if prisoners would not surrender and be considered fugitives, they are deemed as “evading” their sentence and may be arrested even without a warrant.

But according to Rodriguez, citing the SC ruling in the 1967 case of People v. Tan, one should go to the court which convicted these prisoners and file a proper motion for the issuance of a warrant of arrest on them.

The co-author congressman of the GCTA who seems to have more sense and objectivity in not trying to grandstand or point to all these freed prisoners, and the corruption without presenting strong evidence as yet, unlike some of our honorable manures in the Senate who treat their resource persons as guilty of whatever crime they want to attach to the witnesses and others, they abuse the Senate’s power to detain them for long periods of time, and released only if they sing the song the honorable — you know-what-already, want them to sing — which is the Senators’ version of their mere unproven suspicions.

As Rep. Rodriquez stated: “According to the Supreme Court, the court continues to have jurisdiction up to the time when they are released as to the issue whether the release was correct or not, whether the law was applied or not, the GCTA Law. Therefore, the court can have the jurisdiction to review,” he said.
He advised the prisoners to file a motion for the issuance of the warrant of arrest on the ground of wrongful interpretation and erroneous computation of the GCTA, there being no basis for the demand of their arrest.

He added that the released were freed officially by the Bureau of Corrections. Whether right or wrong, whether on the basis of the product of corruption, it is only the court that can issue a warrant of arrest for any person in this country.

Those released did not escape, they left the prisons as free men.

Even a law graduate who just took the bar would have realized that Guevarra’s excuse to remain in the good graces of Malacañang based on his basis on the past judicial ruling on the GCT was not the correct one, has Duterte now saying in his latest GMA TV interview that the GCTA law can be subject to various interpretations, and that the government will ask the SC to clarify its nebulous provisions.

Over 1,900 inmates were freed due to the GCTA, which entitles select inmates to reduced prison terms in exchange for good conduct. There will at least now be a review of the good conduct time will have been made, although this is not enough, since it should be the current SC’s judicial decision that should count and be obeyed and respected by all, right or wrong.

One other thing that state prosecutors, lower and appellate judges, as well as the High Court should do, is to put a stop to sentencing those convicted, whether drug pushers, rapists, murderers and others prison terms of anywhere from 80 to 250 years which are useless sentences, given that no prisoner lives over 100 years, assuming that a suspect was 18 when he was first convicted.

Besides, the government can’t even seem to follow the law that prisoners should be treated humanely, not treated and fed like animals and not released when they are terminally ill.

What use is it for prosecutors and courts to have even seek decades long for the courts to sentence novenarians to prison terms which the aged person will not be able to serve?

If the courts and the government want to treat the prisoners humanely, they could, should they insist on sentencing the convicted for an unreasonable length of time, at the very least, sentence them to say a maximum of long years in jail but giving these convicts to serve their other unreasonable prison terms concurrently — say from 20 to 40 years sentences. And please, release all those terminally ill prisoners as well as those who need serious medical attention.

As for the other city and provincial jails detainees who cannot post bail since they have no money, the judges can perhaps just give the first timer detainees a suspended sentence. Or make them work around the prisons and in other government projects — as long as the prison guards are at the ready to watch out for would be escapees and escapees.

Our officials, senators, drunk with power and, our judges, or courts appear to have lost whatever humanity they have — if they ever had one, in the first place.

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