TWO government officials were recently ordered by the Supreme Court (SC) to comment on the petition of inmates of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) against the constitutionality of a new classification system for good conduct and time allowances, which can be the basis for commutation of sentence, parole or even pardon by the President.
In a resolution dated July 22, SC clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II have 10 days to comment on the petition of the heads of the Bilibid Malinis Organization, God's Marshal Rescuer, Inc., Sputnik Brotherhood Organization, Inc., Genuine Ilocano Group, Batang City Jail International 32, Commando Organization and the Interfaith Ministry.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag's petition to intervene in the case was also granted.
According to the Muntinlupa City-based inmates, the new classification under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10592 violated "jurisprudential rules" on the retroactive application of penal laws that are beneficial to the accused and the inmates.
If implemented retroactively, "thousands of inmates should have been given their freedom from the moment the law took effect and even before the issuance of the late IRR," the petition read.
"And thousands of inmates should be set free much earlier in the future as compared to what the IRR stands," it said.
De Lima and Roxas allegedly reasoned out that the three-month-old law should be applied prospectively because the IRR provides for new procedures and standards of behavior for the grant of good conduct time allowance by the would-be formed Management, Screening and Evaluation Committee (MSEC).
Under the IRR, in the first two years of detention, the inmate shall be allowed a deduction of 20 days (up from five days) for each month of good behavior during detention.
Twenty-three days for third to fifth year (up from eight days), 25 days for sixth to 10th year (up from 10 days) and 30 days for the 11th year and beyond.
At any time during the period of imprisonment, the inmate shall also be given an additional deduction of 15 days for each month of study, teaching or mentoring service time rendered. (Sunnex)