It’s an old trick. First, have accountable solons pass a publicly palatable law. When no one’s looking, shaft the public by leaving to the politically appointed its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) which may or may not adhere to the mother law but will only be tested when it’s too late and everything has hit the fan.
The Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) IRR scandal is a case in point.
From the MRT-3 scams, the Mahindra scandal, to the “Yolanda” fiasco, the Mamasapano massacre and the national penitentiary drug trafficking cases, a diabolical birthing of conflicts of interests, high-level corruption and colossal incompetence has been the hallmark of the Benigno Aquino III administration.
Ill-governed by Aquino’s closest alter egos, these transcend administrations, cross over and infect ours. What remnants littered are left to the current administration to clean up lest we step on their noxious droppings.
Allow us then to go through the GCTA IRR with a fine-tooth comb.
Rule I, Section 2 of the 11-page IRR states, “These Rules shall apply only to any prisoner, whether under detention or convicted by final judgment, in a local jail, rehabilitation or detention center or in penal institution.” (caps supplied)
The term “any prisoner” is expansive. It does not distinguish much less exclude those convicted for heinous crimes contrary to Republic Act 10592, the GCTA Act, and the Revised Penal Code (RPC) whose definition of a heinous crime serves as the basis for RA 10592’s exclusion.
Worse, Rule IV, Section 3 fails to declare those under preventive imprisonment or convicted for heinous crimes as excluded. This failure directly contradicts the GCTA Act and the RPC on those critical distinctions. Moreover, Rule IV amends Article 29 of the RPC only where it adds preventive imprisonments to the GCTA arithmetic. It does not amend the RPC’s exclusion of prisoners convicted for heinous crimes.
These errors are repeated under the IRR’s Rule V that addresses convicted criminals. This reemphasis leads one to conclude that the IRR flaws are not just products of ineptitude. Note the consistent absence of exclusion provisions for heinous crimes.
Note likewise that Rule V, Section 1.b states categorically that the GCTA’s scope covers “a prisoner convicted by final judgment in any penal institution.” There is no Section 1.c to limit the irrevocable GCTA grants following the exclusions of RA 10592 or the Penal Code. In effect the IRR is inconsistent and contradicts both statutes. Never mind that the IRR’s father claims that he simply followed the law. That’s untrue.
Of relative importance are acts constituting good conduct. Under the IRR’s Rule III, Section 1.p, “Good Conduct refers to the conspicuous and satisfactory behavior… coupled with faithful obedience to all prison/jail rules and regulation.” Unfortunately, between Sections 2 and 3 of the IRR’s Rule IV, the IRR crafters failed to clearly posit that such behavior must be documented to negate subjectivity and thus be definitive. For instance, documented incidents of illegal drugs hidden inside religious figurines cannot possibly be construed as “faithful obedience to all prison/jail rules and regulation.”
Matters worsen when the IRR empowers factotums in the penal totem pole to alter judgements rendered by the judicial branch and the Supreme Court sans any approval from a court of law.
Rule V. Section 3.a states “The Director of the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections), Chief of the BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) and Wardens… are mandated to assess, evaluate and grant time deduction… in the form of GCTA.” Effectively these factotums are empowered to reduce a sentence without court concurrence. This is unconstitutional. It demeans the Judiciary and violates the separation of powers.
Such unconstitutionality worsens still. Entitled “Partial Extinction of Criminal Liability,” Rule VII Section 1.c states criminal liability is extinguished “for good conduct allowances which the culprit may earn while he is undergoing preventive imprisonment or serving sentence.”
Rule VIII, Sections 1 and 2 further reinforce the usurpation of judicial powers where it validates Rule V, Section 3.a in granting factotums no higher than a bureau head judicial powers to bequeath irrevocable allowances that partially extinguish criminal liability.
Read the IRR. The crafters who spawned the IRR have effectively established commercial values for the GCTA which could fund ambitions and fatten campaign coffers.