Manhunt for GCTA-freed convicts begins September 20

CEBU. Some of the GCTA surrenderers in Cebu were transported to the Leyte Regional Prison in Abuyog, Leyte on September 18, 2019. (Photo by Amper Campaña/SunStar Cebu)

STARTING 12 a.m. Friday, September 20, police tracker teams will fan out and hunt down the freed heinous crime convicts who failed to surrender within the 15-day ultimatum given by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Each convict has a P1-million bounty, dead or alive, on his head.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), 176 have yet to surrender as of 3 p.m. Thursday, September 19.

“All the tracker teams natin of the 176 targets in Metro Manila, they will start their manhunt at 12 o’clock. They are distributed in the 26 police stations. Within six hours from 12 o’clock to 6 o’ clock, all the 176 addresses lahat yun ay pupuntahan ng tracker teams natin,” said Major General Guillermo Eleazar, NCR Police Office director.

“We want to get them alive but kung merong aggressive behavior on their part and pumalag sila at makipag-away sa atin, of course we have to defend ourselves,” he added.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said 1,025 convicts who were released early based on good conduct have surrendered as of Thursday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Brigadier General Bernard Banac said 579 surrendered to various police units as of 6 a.m. Thursday.

Of the number, 349 have been turned over to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Other surrenderers turned themselves in directly to the BuCor.

Banac said they were waiting for the DOJ to furnish them with the "cleaned-up" list of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who were released when their jail terms were reduced after the application of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits.

“The manhunt will be done with or without a reward. Though a reward may be helpful to entice possible informants against convicts who will fail to surrender,” he said.

“But the PNP will exert all efforts to arrest them through our tracker teams led by CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) following the prescribed procedures and with utmost respect for human rights,” he added.

The PNP has created 121 teams led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) that will conduct the manhunt operations.

BuCor earlier said a total of 1,914 PDLs were released through the GCTA from October 2014 to August 13, 2019.

The BuCor list, however, contained double and erroneous entries. It also showed that some PDLs were granted parole or were pardoned.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the recall of these PDLs on September 4, giving them 15 days to surrender. The grace period will lapse at midnight Thursday, September 19.

Duterte gave the order in the wake of the public outcry over the early release of PDLs allegedly due to the anomalous grant of GCTA credits.

The irregularities at BuCor, particularly at the national penitentiary New Bilibid Prison, is under investigation by the Senate.

A parallel investigation is being conducted by the Ombudsman, which has suspended 30 BuCor officials for six months without pay.

Eleazar appealed to the GCTA-freed convicts who have yet to turn themselves in to surrender in the last few remaining hours until the deadline.

“We are also calling and appealing to the families of these PDL na na-released to cooperate with us na sana with the remaining hours ay isuko na sila sa atin, ganon din sa neighborhood at barangay ay ganon din ang panawagan natin sa kanila, pag nag lapse ito tonight, they will be considered as fugitives and we will look for them. Pag nahuli natin sila sa kanilang premises ay meron silang pananagutan regarding this,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)


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