SIXTEEN former national penitentiary inmates’ plans of starting a new life have been cut short by a controversy surrounding Republic Act 10592 that grants convicts early release based on Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA).
Aliexer Anor, a murder convict, is one of them. The 50-year-old Alcoy native said his release on Aug. 25, 2015 meant a new beginning.
“When the good news came, my first thought was how would I start a new life?” he said in Cebuano.
Since his release four years ago, Anor said he had been pursuing a good life.
But he abandoned his goal after he surrendered to the police—he followed President Rodrigo Duterte, who verbally ordered on Sept. 4, 2019 all convicts released on GCTA to return to jail.
Duterte said he would consider putting up a P1 million bounty on each of them if they failed to surrender in 15 days, or by Sept. 19. The President’s declaration followed the public uproar over the reported release order from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) of former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was convicted of raping a 21-year-old college student and ordering her and her male friend’s murder.
Anor and 15 other freed convicts are now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7.
Life for Anor after 16 years in prison has been difficult—he will never be the same person that he was before he committed the crime on June 15, 1992. Life had been good to him when he was still a village chief and a businessman running a hardware store until he killed a man.
Believing it would be hard for him to land a good-paying job after his release from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Anor opted to open a meat store in Alcoy’s public market.
“For four years of being free, I can say I was becoming okay. I could already get back to my old life. I am serving as my 52-year-old sister’s breadwinner since I am single and I live with her,” he said.
The President’s ultimatum changed Anor’s life.
“My business might be closed for good since I am here (with the CIDG). There’s a feeling of regret,” he said. “But I cannot hide as this dilemma could worsen.”
Life inside a jail facility was hard for rape convict Ulysses Cuizon, whose relatives and friends failed to visit him during his prison stay.
To defeat loneliness, he did gardening and took care of a fish pond, and engaged in other activities that could benefit the BuCor.
The 47-year-old pedicab driver was convicted of rape in 2008; he was sentenced to six years and one day to 12 years of imprisonment. He was released on April 25, 2016.
He later found love and started a family.
“I can now personally take care of my family. Since I do have a family now, I am focused on driving my pedicab—the same livelihood I had before,” Cuizon said.
He could not understand why their release orders were recalled, but he said he was willing to sacrifice for a few more years—he is willing to finish his prison sentence.
As he is not getting younger, Cuizon and his live-in partner have been saving money so they could put up their own small store.
He prays that he would still be in good health when he comes out of jail again for the second time—he wants to go back to his family in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur.
“I can only ponder on my situation. I feel worried that they are there and I am here,” he said.
P/MSgt. Artchel Tejero of the CIDG 7 said they are still waiting for further instructions from their central office on what would be their next course of action regarding the convicts who surrendered.
“We just have them booked and we took their fingerprints. Their meal allowance is provided by the police,” he said.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter president Regal Oliva said when the implementing rules and regulations of a law and the law itself are in conflict, the law should prevail.
Oliva said a court order must be issued for the rearrest of the released convicts.
“They were already released. They were granted liberty. You cannot just order them back to prison,”
When asked what the released convicts could do, Oliva said they can go to the IBP or the Public Attorney’s Office for assistance.