PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde said on Monday, September 2, that the prisoners who were released based on good conduct time allowance (GCTA) may be considered “fugitives” if their release orders will be reversed.
“The PNP is ready to field tracker teams to assist the Bureau of Corrections in accounting for national prisoners released through good conduct time allowance (GCTA) if it will be necessary to recall these convicts,” he said in press conference in Camp Crame.
“These persons were convicted by the court to serve prison sentence for their crime. Should there be any nullification or invalidation of their early release from prison, these convicts will be treated as fugitives from justice, thus warrantless arrest is applicable,” he added.
Outrage over the GCTA system erupted following the inclusion of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted for the rape-slay of University of the Philippines student Eileen Sarmenta and the killing of her friend Allan Gomez in 1993, in the list of inmates who will be released due to good behavior.
Sanchez’s release order, which Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Nicanor Faeldon admitted having signed on August 20, 2019, was questioned because of several violations that the former mayor committed while in jail.
Based on records, 1,914 inmates have been released through the GCTA system since 2014, including 445 who were convicted of heinous crimes.
Among those released were three of the seven convicts in the kidnapping and serious illegal detention of the Chiong sisters namely Josman Aznar, Alberto Caño and Ariel Balansag.
Faeldon admitted that he signed the release orders for the three men on August 16, 2019 and that they have been freed.
Albayalde expressed concern over the release of the inmates particularly those who were involved in heinous crimes.
“Admittedly, we are deeply concerned over the release of convicts especially those convicted of heinous crime such as rape, murder, and drug trafficking,” he said.
“We are closely monitoring developments on this matter and will be guided accordingly by orders and issuances from higher authorities. To ensure inter-agency coordination, we will designate a liaison officer with the Department of Justice and Bucor,” he added.
He said they were hoping they would be given the full list of the released inmates.
The PNP chief said there is no existing protocol which requires the BuCor to coordinate or inform the PNP of the release of convicted prisoners through the GCTA.
However, he said such coordination between the PNP and Bucor is necessary particularly for monitoring as the freed prisoners reintegrate into society. (SunStar Philippines)