MANILA — There is no need to secure a warrant of arrest for those among the nearly 2,000 convicts erroneously freed under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) who will refuse to surrender to authorities, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Thursday.
“Those who will ignore the order of the President will face immediate arrest. As fugitives from justice, these convicts can be subjected to warrantless arrest,” PNP chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde said in a press briefing in Camp Crame.
He added if there are surrenderers before the end of the 15-day grace period given by President Rodrigo Duterte, the PNP will immediately process them with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) as the lead unit for this undertaking.
Albayalde also directed Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, head of National Capital Region Police (NCRPO), to secure the list of names and addresses of these convicts from the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and to determine the turnover procedure.
The PNP chief also called on the concerned convicts to voluntarily surrender and also urged the public to report any information that would lead the information to their arrest.
“Those who will heed the order of the President and opt to surrender are given a 15-day grace period to register and have themselves accounted for in the nearest police station,” Albayalde said.
“We also encourage the public to report to us any information that would lead to their arrest through emergency hotline 911 or cellphone number 09178475757,” he added.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, echoed the PNP chief’s remarks.
“Pag na-declare na sila na (if they are declared a) fugitive, that’s evasion of sentence already, they may be classified as evading sentence. If they are declared fugitive after the 15-day period. If they are considered fugitive because they were required to turn themselves in and they did not, that’s evading sentence and that’s a crime so warrantless arrest,” Guevarra said.
Guevarra said the released prisoners themselves know if they should turn themselves into authorities since they were charged for a heinous crime that would have made them ineligible for release under the GCTA Law in the first place.
“Kasi identified naman eh kung sino yun eh yung na-release na convicted of heinous crimes. Alam naman nila ‘yun eh, kung ano ‘yung crime nila (They are all identified all those released even if convicted of heinous crimes. They know with what crimes they were charged with.) Alam naman nila na napalabas sila so pinababalik sila (They know that they were released and they are asked to surrender) within 15 days voluntarily if they don’t, they’ll be considered fugitives. That’s evading sentence. That’s a continuing offense hangga’t hindi sila nagte-turn in ng sarili nila (until they turn themselves in), so that provides an avenue for warrantless arrest,” Guevarra said.
A task force of the PNP and NBI is being eyed to go after the prisoners mistakenly released by the BuCor through the misapplication of the said law, which bars certain convicts from benefiting from it.
The President’s order came shortly after firing BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon.
Duterte said the released inmates with heinous crimes will be automatically barred from leaving the country.
The BuCor is under the DOJ while the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, which runs all district and city jails, is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Benjamin Pulta / PNA – northboundasia.com