Eight Prisoners Released for Good Conduct – Addressing Prison Congestion

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO
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Eight persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have recently been released under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law, following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s grant of executive clemency to 22 other PDLs. This move comes as the Justice department seeks to address the ongoing issue of prison congestion.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced on Monday that more PDLs will be freed for good conduct as the department continues its efforts. He emphasized that this is just the beginning, with more releases expected in the days ahead.

To provide some background, last year, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) sought guidelines from the Supreme Court regarding the application of the GCTA as stipulated in Republic Act (RA) 10592, which was enacted on May 29, 2013. The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10592 define GCTA as a privilege granted to prisoners, whether detained or convicted, entitling them to a reduction of their jail or prison term for every month of actual detention or service of the sentence as a reward for good conduct and exemplary behavior.

However, the court declared the initial IRR of the law invalid. In 2019, an amended IRR was enacted to address this issue. It is important to note that recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees, and PDLs charged or convicted of heinous crimes are not entitled to GCTA.

BuCor Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. stated that more qualified PDLs are expected to be released under the GCTA. The recent grant of clemency by President Marcos on March 9 resulted in two PDLs receiving conditional pardon, while the rest had their sentences commuted. Executive clemency refers to the commutation of sentence, conditional pardon, and absolute pardon based on the recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Justice Secretary Remulla reiterated the Department of Justice’s commitment to carrying out the President’s directive to decongest state penitentiaries and provide reformed convicts with a chance to start anew. He emphasized that the decongestion of prison facilities is a humanitarian and moral obligation, as well as the first step towards creating a more suitable and conducive environment for the reformation of PDLs.

“This best portrays our full resolve to attain an efficient restorative justice system and give our PDLs a second chance to reintegrate themselves into their communities,” Remulla said.

In conclusion, the recent release of eight PDLs under the GCTA Law highlights the Justice department’s ongoing efforts to address prison congestion and provide opportunities for reformed convicts. As more qualified PDLs are expected to be released, the government remains committed to creating a more humane and conducive environment for rehabilitation and reintegration.

Source: The Manila Times

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