Sotto, Lacson, Gordon: Repeal GCTA law

Even as they undertake a review of the implementation of RA 10592 or the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, three senators are already moving for its repeal.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson and Sen. Richard J. Gordon on Monday filed Senate Bill No. 993 which seeks to scrap the GCTA law that effectively shaves off jail time of prisoners due to good behavior.

SB 993 seeks to repeal the amendments in Articles 29, 94, 97, 98 and 99 of the Revised Penal Code as contained under RA 10592.

Sotto, Lacson and Gordon said the intention of the framers of Senate Bill 3064, introduced during the 15th Congress and which brought about RA 10592, was primarily to grant good conduct allowance to persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) while their case is still pending.

The purpose of GCTA, they said, is laudable in decongesting the overpopulated prison cells.

"However, when it was enacted into law, it caused an absurd interpretation and its very provisions needed harmonization," they said, adding that it has been subject to abuse by the persons allowed by law to grant time allowances.

RA 10592, enacted on May 29, 2013, was put to the test as its implementation was supposed to cause the release of former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez has been sentenced to suffer the maximum penalty of seven 40-year imprisonment or seven counts off reclusion perpetua for one the most sensational crimes in the 1990s, the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of her friend Allan Gomez - both students of the University of the Philippines Los BaAos.

Public outrage prompted some members of the Senate to look into the propriety of the application of RA 10592 in Sanchez' case and its implementation in general, they said.

In their explanatory note, Sotto, Lacson and Gordon said there's logical reason to abandon the grant of GCTA if the magnitudes of its aftermath are prejudicial for many of the victims and their relatives who are seeking justice.

"The provision on GCTA has been in effect since the 1930s and it has not raised this kind of concern from the people and the government. Thus, it is an opportune time to go back to the old law where no question of proper implementation has been put forth to the government and prisoners are enjoying its benefits without a question of the propriety of its applicability on them," they said.

"The law is always changing. It is usually reactive to what the society dictates and it constantly reflects changes that occurs in our society because a law is simply never perfect," the senators added.

Gordon's committee on justice and human rights joint with the committees on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, public order and dangerous drugs, finance and blue ribbon have conducted an inquiry on the alleged early release of Sanchez and the implementation of RA 10592.

Amendments contained in RA 10592 provides for partial extinction of criminal liability, including conditional pardon, commutation of sentence by allowing good conduct to be credited in the reduction of stay in detention.

Source: Senate of the Philippines