(UPDATED) THREE persons convicted of the Chiong rape-slay case will not be released yet as government has suspended the implementation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law for 10 days pending its review.
Besides, the authenticity of the alleged release orders for Rowen Adlawan, Aberto Caño and Ariel Balansag is still being verified by Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message on Thursday, August 29.
Faeldon has denied reports that he signed release orders for Adlawan, Caño and Balansag based on GCTA under Republic Act 10592.
Guevarra, in his text message, said he has ordered a review of the GCTA implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
"The DOJ (Department of Justice) review of the GCTA implementing rules and guidelines will cover all inmates, regardless of the crimes committed or convicted for," he said.
Under the law, prisoners may apply for the reduction of their sentence based on good conduct.
RA 10592 expanded the application of the GCTA for prisoners even during preventive imprisonment, increased the number of days that may be credited for GCTA, allowed additional deduction of 15 days for each month of study, teaching, or mentoring service, and expanded the special time allowance for loyalty and made it applicable even during preventive imprisonment.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, in a statement Thursday, said the two departments have ordered the suspension of the GCTA implementation for 10 days while the review is conducted on the Implementing Rules and Regulation and the Uniform Policy and Guidelines on the computation of credits and allowances under 10592.
Also suspended is the processing and computation of time credits and allowances.
“The review of the IRR and the Uniform Guidelines will allow both agencies to determine if the policies currently being implemented are consistent with the intent of the law passed by Congress,” said Malaya.
“Hopefully, the joint committee will be able to make the necessary adjustments to the IRR, if needed, so that we do not have to go to Congress or to the Judiciary,” he added.
The amended GCTA sparked a controversy after public outrage erupted over reports that former Calauan mayor Antonio Sanchez would be released based on this law.
Sanchez was convicted of the rape and murder of University of the Philippines student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993.
Adlawan, Caño and Balansag were convicted for the Chiong case on May 5, 1999.
Sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong were kidnapped outside the Ayala Center Cebu mall on the evening of July 16, 1997.
Marijoy was found dead two days later. Her body was dumped at the bottom of a ravine in Sitio Tan-awan, Barangay Guadalupe, Carcar City, Cebu. Jacqueline has not been found.
Marijoy was 19 and Jacqueline, 21.
Convicted for kidnapping and illegal detention were Francisco Juan “Paco” Larrañaga, Josman Aznar, Adlawan, Caño, Balansag and brothers James Andrew and James Anthony Uy. They were sentenced to two life terms.
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court's ruling and imposed the death penalty on convicts Larrañaga, Aznar, Adlawan, Caño and Balansag on February 3, 2004. The death penalty, however, was abolished in 2006.
Larrañaga, a citizen of Spain, was transferred to a jail in Spain. The rest are held at the New Bilibid Prison.
RA 10592 currently provides that a prisoner with good conduct is entitled to the following deductions from the period of his sentence: