FOR 40 years, thoughts of a new life in the island kept Alejandro Anana Arquillano going.
He often thought of the beach while serving his sentence at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Arquillano, 56, was convicted of rape and attempted rape with homicide.
He is among the 16 men convicted of heinous crimes who were released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, and who had to turn themselves in to the police in Central Visayas on orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.
On Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, personnel of the San Francisco police station brought him to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 in Cebu City.
When Duterte ordered them to surrender, he was just starting to get used to being home and was starting a new life, having been released only two weeks earlier.
For the 40 years that he was incarcerated in Iwahig, he had longed to swim again in Camotes’ famous beach and go home to Barangay Consuelo in San Francisco.
He was ecstatic when he was told his sentence had been shortened for good conduct and he was finally going home.
As soon as the vessel he was on docked at the port of San Francisco, Arquillano said he immediately jumped into the water.
“Pagdating ko sa Camotes, naligo ako kaagad sa dagat kasi mula nang nabilanggo ako di ko talaga natikman ulit ang dagat. Halos araw-araw akong nasa dagat noong ako ay nakauwi sa amin. Nabalitaan ko na lang na pinabalik na kami sa piitan ni President Duterte. So inisip ko na lang na nagbakasyon lang ako ng dalawang linggo sa amin (When I got to Camotes, I went straight to the water because I’d not seen the beach since I went to jail. Every day I went to the beach until I found out that we were being asked to go back to jail. So I just thought of it as a two-week vacation),” he said.
He had been busy making fishnets that he would use for fishing, but his plans have been dashed by the President’s order.
Since all of the 16 convicts would have to be turned over to the CIDG 7 and sent to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) facility in Leyte, the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 wants to know who will shoulder the expenses for their meals and transportation.
As of Tuesday, or six days after more than 2,000 convicts were ordered to surrender, eight from Cebu have turned themselves in, two from Cebu City, two from Negros Oriental and four from Bohol.
Sinas ordered the police units to endorse the 16 convicts to the CIDG 7 for recording purposes and to coordinate with the BuCor on what steps to take.
“The problem now is while they are detained at the CIDG, who will shoulder their food and transportation going to Leyte? There are 16 of them,” Sinas said.
He hopes Duterte would consider honoring the convicts’ early release for good conduct since they had already served their respective jail sentences.
The last convict brought to the CIDG 7 as of Tuesday was Victoriano Pontilar, 62, of Barangay Bactas in Catmon town. He was convicted of rape and was sentenced to 28 years at the New Bilibid Prison, though he claimed he had been falsely accused.
He was freed on Dec. 28, 2018 but had to turn himself in at the Catmon police station on Monday, Sept. 9.
Pontilar can barely walk and talk after suffering a stroke inside the Bilibid prison in 2006. LRC