I DON’T know whether I should feel sorry for them. But the verdict is out, so to speak.
Last Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año signed the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (RA) 10592, or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, which made it clear that escapees, habitual delinquents, recidivists and heinous crime convicts will not benefit from the law.
So those who are doing time for treason, piracy in general and mutiny on high seas in Philippine waters, qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping with serious illegal detention, robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons, destructive arson, rape and importation, distribution, manufacturing and possession of illegal drugs can kiss goodbye to any chance of being released for good behavior.
As for the 1,914 freed heinous crime convicts who were released under the GCTA law, they should have all been back behind bars last Thursday, Sept. 19, the deadline of the 15-day ultimatum given by President Rodrigo Duterte. The President had warned them that he would put a P1 million bounty on their head and that authorities would rearrest them, dead or alive.
Trust me, they’re better off inside a cell, which, I’m sure, is more comfortable than a coffin.
So what makes their crimes heinous?
According to RA 7659, or the death penalty law, their crimes were considered heinous “for being grievous, odious and hateful offenses and which, by reason of their inherent or manifest wickedness, viciousness, atrocity and perversity are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society.”
Okay, that didn’t help.
But wait, they can still avail themselves of a “get out of jail” free card if the Board of Pardons and Parole allows them to complete their sentences outside detention. In other words, if they get paroled.
I guess it all boils down to who they know in the board. That, or if they have a really good lawyer. Good lawyers, by the way, are expensive. So I guess only those with means can hope to get a parole.
Someone like former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was found guilty of raping and murdering Eileen Sarmenta and killing her boyfriend Allan Gomez in 1993, perhaps? Or maybe Josman Aznar?
Or they always can get a pardon from the President.
Earlier this month, Duterte announced that he had pardoned or commuted the sentences of some convicts, whom he didn’t name, because they deserved it. He then went on to say that the public had no right to question his authority to pardon criminals, “calling it an ‘an absolute power’ granted him by the Constitution.”
Again, the convict must have access to Malacañang or knows someone who has access to the head of state. To have that kind of connection, the convict has had to be someone before he or she was placed in jail. So that leaves out a farmer who massacred his neighbor’s family or a tricycle driver who raped his live-in partner’s daughters.
What I’m saying is, all hope of getting out is not lost for those convicted of heinous crimes, especially if they’re rich and influential. Despite the revised IRR of RA 10592.
So I guess I shouldn’t feel sorry for them. In fact, they should consider themselves lucky that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo abolished RA 7659 in June 2006. Otherwise, some of them would have been candidates for the needle.